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Stricter Seat Belt Law Introduced

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RALEIGH — North Carolina has some of the toughest highway safety laws on the books and now some lawmakers want to make them even tougher. State lawmakers have just introduced a new bill that would raise the stakes for drivers whose passengers aren't strapped in properly.

The goal is to increase seat belt use from roughly 80 percent to 90 percent. Lawmakers say that could save up to 90 lives this year alone.

"I've seen, on a number of occasions, adults who have come in to the emergency room literally with their brains hanging out over their eyes from having their heads banged against the dashboard," says Sen. Bill Purcell. "And many of these people would not have been injured at all if they had had a seat belt [on]."

The lawmakers believe restraining more people will keep them from killing themselves and others. The proposed seat belt laws would require everyone in a vehicle to be buckled up, including back seat passengers.

Children would also be affected, since lawmakers want to raise the age of mandatory restraint from under four to under five. Child restraint systems would also be required in back seats.

If these conditions are not met, two points would be added to a driver's record. The two point penalty would not be added to insurance records, so it shouldn't affect rates.

A similar bill was introduced last year and did not pass.