PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (May 1, 2012) — State troopers, the Missouri Department of Transportation, and two local police departments have announced that they’ll be doing special seatbelt enforcement on Friday, May 4, and drunk driving enforcement from Thursday, May 3 to Sunday, May 13.
Friday’s seatbelt enforcement effort was announced April 18 and is part of an interstate effort along Route 66 which began in August 2010 in Oklahoma and has now expanded to all eight states from California to Illinois. Named “Get Your Clicks on Route 66,” the quarterly crackdown continues to be coordinated by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol but state agencies will enforce each state’s individual seatbelt laws.
“We want everyone to buckle up—every trip, every time—whether you’re driving in a city or a rural area,” said Lt. Ben Crockett of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
For Missouri, that means:
- Everyone riding in the front seat in automobiles and trucks with a licensed gross weight of less than 12,000 pounds must wear a seat belt.
- Children from 8 through 15 must wear seat belts regardless of the type of vehicle in which they are riding or where they are seated (front or back). Like the child restraint law, this is a primary law, meaning drivers can be pulled over for noncompliance.
- Persons less than 18 years of age operating or riding in trucks (regardless of gross weight for which licensed) must wear seat belts.
- No person under age 18 is allowed to ride in the unenclosed bed of a truck with a licensed gross weight of less than 12,000 pounds on lettered highways, federal and state maintained highways, and within city limits. There are exemptions for agricultural purposes, special events, and parades.
- It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure passengers under 16 are buckled up safely. Those 16 and over are responsible for themselves.
- Children less than 4, regardless of weight, must use an appropriate child passenger restraint system.
- Children weighing less than 40 pounds, regardless of age, must be secured in a child passenger restraint system appropriate for the child.
- Children from 4 to 7 who weigh at least 40 pounds but less than 80 pounds, and are less than 4-feet 9-inches tall, must be secured in a child passenger restraint system or a booster seat appropriate for that child.
- Children who are at least 80 pounds or children taller than 4-feet 9-inches tall must be secured by a vehicle safety belt or booster seat appropriate for that child.
“It’s great to see agencies all along Route 66 working together to enforce the law in their respective states,” said Capt. Lee Ann Kenley, commanding officer of the Rolla-based Troop I of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. “During the Route 66 crackdown, we’ll be reminding people that using a seat belt is not only a smart decision, it is the law.”
In a separate crackdown, MoDOT personnel announced on April 23, followed by nearly identical press releases from the St. Robert Police Department on April 25 and from the Waynesville Police Department on May 1, that state and local agencies will be working from May 3 to May 13 to “make sure Missouri youth are celebrating safe and sober” during the prom and graduation season.
According to the announcement, despite legal bans on people under 21 drinking or possessing alcohol, “youth make up a significant proportion of drunk drivers causing traffic crashes on Missouri roadways.”
While adult drivers are considered drunk if they have more than 0.08 percent blood alcohol content, state laws in Missouri allow zero tolerance for “even a trace of alcohol” in drivers under 21, with driver’s licenses being automatically suspended.
Additional consequences for drunk drivers regardless of age include possible jail time, criminal sentences which can include mandatory use of ignition interlocks to make sure drivers haven’t consumed alcohol before getting into the vehicle, higher insurance rates, attorney fees, court costs, lost time at work, and possible loss of jobs or future employment prospects, according to the MoDOT announcement.
MoDOT personnel said last year in Missouri, 217 people were killed and an additional 867 seriously injured in crashes where at least one person was driving while impaired.
Failure to use seatbelts can have consequences just as serious as drunk driving. According to 2010 Missouri State Highway Patrol statistics, 67.7 percent of Missouri drivers and 63.2 percent of passengers killed in automobiles, trucks, vans, and motor homes were not wearing seat belts. By contrast, 97.3 percent of drivers involved in non-injury traffic crashes were wearing their seat belt at the time of the crash.