Seat belt legislation passes state Senate, 12-9


CARSON CITY — State senators voted 12-9 today for a bill that allows police offices to pull over and cite motorists for not wearing seat belts without first having to charge them with another offense.

Sen. Mike Schneider, D-Las Vegas, said he was persuaded to sponsor and support the bill after visiting the trauma center at  University Medical Center. Some of the patients were people who had been ejected from vehicles during accidents in which they were not wearing seat belts. He said some of  them will become permanently disabled and the state must pick up their medical costs for the remainder of their lives.

"You can have freedom of choice (on whether or not to wear a seat belt), but it shouldn't include having the taxpayers to pay for you for 40 years or until you die," he said.

Nevada now has a secondary seat belt law. Police cannot stop a vehicle and cite drivers for not wearing seat belts unless they are first pulled over for another driving offense.

Senate Bill 118 would make Nevada a primary seat belt law state.

Schneider noted that his former legislative intern, University of Nevada, Reno, student Adam Thomas, was killed during the 2007 session in an accident while not wearing a seat belt. A friend in the vehicle, who was belted in, suffered minor injuries in the accident.

With Senate passage, the bill will be forwarded to the Assembly for review.