Tougher seatbelt bill goes nowhere

(AP) - An effort to revive a rejected proposal to let Nevada police pull over drivers for not wearing seatbelts died Friday in the state Senate.

Sen. Dennis Nolan tried to amend part of his seatbelt plan - which had died previously in an Assembly committee - into AB64, which would increase penalties for those who don't use child safety seats in cars.

But the move by Nolan, R-Las Vegas, chairman of the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee, died on a voice vote in the Senate.

Nolan had come up with several changes to his original bill in efforts to win enough votes for the amendment. That included a six-month period in which police only could give warnings.

The rejected amendment also called for a study to see whether racial profiling was a factor in police stops, and provided for only one ticket per car, no matter how many people in the vehicle weren't wearing seat belts.

Approval of Nolan's plan would have made Nevada the 27th state to make failure to wear a seat belt a "primary offense," meaning that police could pull over drivers who aren't committing any other violation.

Under the state's current "secondary" seat belt law, a motorist or passengers cannot be cited for failing to wear seat belts unless an officer pulls the vehicle over and cites the driver for another driving offense.

Opponents had argued that Nevada's current rate of seat belt usage, estimated by authorities at just over 90 percent, was as high as the state could hope for. But Nolan had questioned the statistics and said seat belts would save lives.

Opponents also said Nevada could pursue strategies to improve seat belt wearing that don't involve law enforcement, and expressed dismay that insurance companies wouldn't promise lower rates if the law was passed.


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