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Bill would make seat belt violation a primary offense in North Dakota

Senate Bill 2121 would allow primary enforcement of seat belts, and make the driver responsible for any passengers not wearing their seat belts in the vehicle as well.

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man fastening seat belt in car

BISMARCK — After passing in the Senate, a bill to allow primary enforcement of seat belts will be heard in the House.

Senate Bill 2121 was introduced by Sen. Brad Bekkedahl, R-Williston, in January on behalf of the coalition representing the Vision Zero Campaign.

“Seat belts are the single most effective safety device to prevent death and injury in a motor vehicle crash,” he said.

Bekkedahl said he had seen first-hand what being unbelted in an accident will do to a person.

“Nearly half of all of our motor vehicle fatalities were unbelted in 2019,” he said “Statistics prove that a stronger seat belt law in our state will save lives.”

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The bill would make the driver responsible for any passengers not wearing their seat belts in the vehicle as well.

The House has killed two proposed relaxations of seat belt law this session. HB 1257 would have allowed people over 18 to be exempt from having to wear a seat belt. HB 1156 would have allowed those making deliveries to be exempt from wearing a seat belt.

Rep. Dan Ruby, R-Minot, argued on the House floor that people should be able to accept the risk of driving without wearing a seat belt.

“I, like many of you, ride motorcycle ... if you get in an accident (while on a motorcycle) you will lose,” he said. “We can accept that risk as an adult.”

Ruby said he and the sponsors of HB 1257 were frustrated when SB 2121 was introduced in the Senate.

“Why don’t we just stay where we are at?” he said. “That’s a point we will make when we get (SB 2121).”

Dylan Sherman is a reporting intern with the North Dakota Newspaper Association.

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
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