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Examiner
  • Council makes seat belt violations more costly

  • Motor vehicle drivers Independence need to buckle up or be prepared to fork over a Ulysses S. Grant.



    The City Council approved an ordinance Monday that amends the law on safety belts, making the non-usage of safety belts a primary offense and increasing the fine from $10 to $50.

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  • Motor vehicle drivers Independence need to buckle up or be prepared to fork over a Ulysses S. Grant.
    The City Council approved an ordinance Monday that amends the law on safety belts, making the non-usage of safety belts a primary offense and increasing the fine from $10 to $50.
    Before, drivers could not be pulled over by police simply for not wearing a belt, but they could be cited and fined the $10 if pulled over for another potential violation and found to be non-compliant on safety belts.
    The ordinance didn’t receive unanimous approval. Besides Council Member Eileen Weir being absent, Curt Dougherty and Myron Paris voted against it. Dougherty objected to what he called “shaking hard-working citizens down for $50,” and also wondered if an increased fine would serve as any deterrence.
    “We’ve got better ways to spend our resources,” Dougherty said. “What we’re trying to sell is that this will miraculously change the behavior of drivers.”
    Police Chief Tom Dailey said driver fatalities in the city rose from five in 2011 to nine in 2012, and four of those nine were not wearing safety belts. He also noted a similar safety belt measure has been making its way through the state legislature.
    “I would hesitate to use the term ‘shaking citizens down,’” he said. “It’s a safety issue. We try to mirror state laws, and communities around us moving toward this.”
    Dailey acknowledged Dougherty’s assertion that there is no way to prove belt-less drivers killed or severely injured – possibly after other reckless actions – would’ve been convinced to buckle up if a heavier fine was in place. But he maintained his belief that $50 would be a bigger deterrence.
    “You can’t prove a negative,” he said. “You don’t know what you don’t know.”
    Council Member Marcie Gragg said she believed a larger fine would change some drivers’ minds.
    “This has nothing to do with (raising) money (through fines),” she said. “This has everything to do with safety and changing behavior.”
    Other business
    The city manager accepted a grant of $2,325 from the State Emergency Management Agency for Fire Department equipment purchases, as well as four grants from State of Missouri Division of Tourism totaling $97,743.90 for the Tourism Department.
    Mayor Don Reimal helped close the meeting by sharing how he recently had the pleasure of flipping the switch on the city’s new LED streetlights. He applauded how the city made a full-borne change to LEDs instead of starting in small areas and branching out, as some other cities who made the switch have done.
    “We’re getting a lot of attention for this,” Reimal said. “We’ve kind of ‘stolen the spotlight,’ if I my say that.”
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