|06-13-2005, 12:35 PM||#1|
Third time a charm for seat belt legislation?/Massachusets
Third time a charm for seat belt legislation?
By Jennifer Fenn Sentinel & Enterprise Statehouse Bureau
BOSTON -- In two votes over the past four years, the House of Representatives has been deadlocked over whether to approve a strict seat belt law in Massachusetts.
By votes of 73-73 in 2001 and 76-76 in 2003, lawmakers have shot down proposals that would allow police officers to pull over drivers for failing to wear their seat belts.
The bill is once again making its way through the legislative process and several local lawmakers hope the outcome is different this time around.
"It's very necessary today, the way drivers are on the road," said Rep. Emile Goguen, D-Fitchburg.
During his first session in the House 15 years ago, Goguen gave his maiden speech on the importance of a seat belt law. He was driving down Shea Street a few days after the speech when a neighbor honked their horn and pointed at their seat belt. Goguen wasn't wearing his.
"Since that moment, as soon as I get in the car, it's the first thing I do," he said.
The Legislature's Committee on Public Safety held a hearing on the bill and most committee members support it. However, the committee has not taken a formal vote to move the bill on to the Legislature for debate.
Currently, state law requires all drivers and passengers to be properly restrained by a safety belt, booster seat or child safety seat, but police cannot pull over drivers simply because they are not wearing their seat belt. A driver may only be stopped by police solely for having a child 12 years of age or younger improperly restrained.