Starting on May 1, if you choose not to wear your seat belt in Branson, you will run the risk of getting pulled over. Branson’s Board of Aldermen recently passed a primary seat belt ordinance to change the seat belt law from a secondary violation to a primary violation. That means a police officer will now have the ability to pull you over solely for not wearing a seat belt.
The Branson Police Department has chosen to concentrate on an initial education campaign, so the weeks immediately following May 1 will see a focus on warnings instead of citations. Beginning on May 1, Branson police officers will stop seat belt violators to educate them about the new ordinance and the life-saving benefits of seat belt use. During this time, officers will still have discretion to write seat belt tickets as secondary violations. This could be for something like not wearing a seat belt in an accident or in conjunction with another traffic violation.
Branson Police say safety is the reason for this new law. Currently, Missouri ranks in the bottom 9 states for safety belt use, resulting in over 400 potentially preventable traffic deaths per year. Studies have shown that the 35 states with primary seat belt laws routinely have over 90% seat belt compliance among drivers and passengers. With this new ordinance, the Branson Police Department believes that the resulting benefits will include several lives per year saved, as well as a large reduction in serious injuries and their related medical costs.
“We have lost several people, including four teenagers, in Branson area accidents just in the last few months alone. These are children and adults in our community who were ejected from their vehicles and killed. If we have the opportunity to stop a vehicle and save even one of those lives, this ordinance is well worth it,” said Branson Assistant Police Chief, Eric Schmitt.
The fine for Branson’s new seat belt ordinance is ten dollars.