Seat-belt use in Nevada not a problem

The testimony of those supporting a bill to give police authority to pull over drivers who they think aren't wearing seat belts seems to suggest the state has a problem.

But, in actuality, seat belt usage in Nevada is a tremendous success story.

A survey last year commissioned by the Nevada Department of Public Safety found that nine out of 10 drivers wear their seat belts. In 2002, only about 75 percent of drivers were buckling up. That's a great success rate, and it doesn't show there's a problem that needs to be fixed with a new law.

Nor does there seem to be evidence that a new law would convince the stragglers to buckle up. A better idea would be to continue the education programs that have worked so well already to convince people to buckle up.

SB42 would give police the power to stop someone they believe isn't wearing a seat belt. Current law requires seat belts, but doesn't allow an officer to stop someone for that.

Opponents rightly argue that the law would allow officers to stop any vehicle on the premise they believed seat belts were not being used. And that leads to allegations of racial profiling, which was documented several years ago in Clark County.

Aren't there problem areas legislators should be looking at if they truly want to make roads safer? After all, there aren't many people who don't buckle up, but there are lots of people who think nothing of holding animated discussions on their cell phones while driving at highway speeds.


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