Beginning June 30, a new law in Arkansas changes the seat belt law, allowing traffic stops based solely on the violation of a driver or front seat passenger not wearing a seat belt. Arkansas is the 27th state to enact primary seat belt legislation.
Previously, Arkansas law enforcement officers could only write a seat belt violation as a secondary offense, having had to stop the vehicle for some other primary offense.
Supporters of the legislation have been pushing for it for years, based on statistics showing that, when worn correctly, seat belts have been proven to reduce the risk of death to front seat car passengers by 45 percent and by 60 percent in trucks, SUV's and minivans.
Director of the Arkansas State Police, Colonel Winford Phillips, said in a news conference that, "We hope motorists will buckle up regardless of any change in enforcement because they are law abiding citizens. Writing more tickets is not the focus of this legislation. It is our hope of law enforcement that seat belt use goes up so high we do not have to write a single ticket and as a result have fewer fatal crashes to handle."
For more information about seat belt safety, child safety seats and booster seats, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Web site at www.nhtsa.gov or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at 501-618-8136.