Tie Vote on Seatbelt Law

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Legislation to toughen enforcement of the state's seatbelt law failed on a tie vote Thursday in a House of Delegates committee.

Gov. Mark Warner is pushing the bill to allow police to stop and ticket drivers who fail to buckle up. Under the current law, drivers can only be cited for a seat belt violation if they are stopped for something else.

The House Transportation Committee heard testimony this morning from several witnesses. Among them: Cath Thomas of King George, who was paralyzed in a traffic accident 18 years ago.

She told lawmakers from her wheelchair, "If I had taken two seconds to buckle my seat belt, it would have avoided 18 years of living in my own little prison."

Delegate Dick Black of Loudoun County opposed the bill, saying people engage in a lot of dangerous activities that are not regulated by the state, such as swimming and skateboarding. He said he prefers to encourage seat belt use rather than force it.

The issue is not dead yet. A similar bill is pending in a Senate committee.

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