The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

March 28, 2013

House passes Seat Belt bill

By Mannix Porterfield
Register-Herald Reporter

CHARLESTON — In a historic decision, the House of Delegates rejected arguments that it would compromise individual freedom today and agreed to make failure to use a seatbelt a primary traffic offense.

Opponents argued that not buckling up wouldn't endanger other motorists, but supporters countered that this would raise insurance premiums for all drivers.

Judiciary Chairman Tim Miley, D-Harrison, said 85 percent of West Virginia motorists use belts under a secondary offense law but passage of HB2108 would increase usage by 8 percent.

One advocate, Delegate Margaret Staggers, D-Fayette, said she has witnessed the severe injuries that beltless motorists suffer in her role as an emergency room physician.

Given the Senate's routine passage of identical bills the past four years, the House measure is destined for swift and easy passage.