North Dakota Senate Passes Bill that Would Toughen Seat Belt Laws
North Dakota is one of 15 states requiring drivers to have a second offense to be pulled over
NORTH DAKOTA — In North Dakota, you can’t get pulled over for not wearing your seat belt unless you have another offense.
A new bill moving through the legislature would make you see flashing lights if you’re not buckled up.
The bill narrowly passed the Senate 24–23 and now moves to the House for a vote.
“If I see somebody who’s not wearing their seat belt, it brings my attention to them, I might look a little harder for a violation, but I’m not going to make a traffic stop unless I observe another violation they might have committed,” Capt. Bryan Niewind with the North Dakota Highway Patrol said.
North Dakota Highway Patrol says last year, more than half of crashes in the state involved someone not wearing a seat belt.
“If they feel like they don’t want to be stopped for not wearing their seat belt, it creates a deterrent effect which in turn creates a higher percentage of people wearing their seat belts,” Niewind said.
“It’s shame people don’t have common sense to put the seat belt on that we have to have a law to mandate it but it will save lives and it’ll protect you. It makes common sense. You wouldn’t get on an airplane without putting your seat belt on, cars are much more dangerous,” Jim Locken, a driver, said.
The bill would increase the fine for not wearing a seat belt from $20 to $50. It would also require people in both the front and back seats to be buckled up.
Highway Patrol says if you’re not wearing your seat belt in a violent collision, you’re more likely to be unconscious and not be able to get yourself out of the car.
“We have so many crashes that occur that are either serious injury or a fatality happens, where if people would’ve been wearing their seat belt, they would’ve had minor injuries or even walked away from that crash without injuries, but instead we’re going to notify their families, loved ones, that they’ve been killed in a crash when it’s preventable,” Niewind said.
“That’s the way we were raised, we put our seat belts on. This is before anyone’s even talking about it. We were wearing seat belts in the early ’60s. I’ve always been a seat belt proponent, always will be,” Locken said.
North Dakota is one of 15 states requiring drivers to have a second offense to be pulled over.