A Wyoming Legislative Committee on Monday signed off on a bill that would allow law enforcement in Wyoming to stop people for not wearing seat belts.

Under current state law,  not wearing a seat belt is a secondary violation. That means you can be ticketed for not wearing a seat belt if you are stopped first for another violation, such as speeding. But police cannot stop and ticket anyone simply because they see them not wearing a seat belt.

A bill to change that died in the 2020 session of the Wyoming Legislature.

But supporters of the concept are trying again. On Monday, the Legislature's Joint Committee on Transportation, Highways, and Military Affairs signed off on a bill to make seat belt usage a primary offence under Wyoming law.

That could be significant because while similar bills in the past have failed to win approval, this will be the first time that such a measure has been put forward by a committee as opposed to individual lawmakers. Generally speaking, bills sponsored by legislative committees have a better chance of being approved than those put forward by individual lawmakers.

Supporters of the measure say it would encourage seat belt usage, which would save lives. The Wyoming Department of Transportation has long supported such a law, as have officials with the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

Opponents feel the measure is intrusive and that such matters should be left up to individuals. Some opponents also question whether the real intention behind such laws is to raise money for the state through traffic fines, not public safety.

So what do you think?

Does Wyoming need a primary seat belt law? Are such measures really about public safety, or just an attempt to raise revenues for the state through traffic fines?

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