In a 4-1 vote, the Kirkwood City Council passed an ordinance Thursday night allowing Kirkwood Police officers to pull over and ticket vehicles whose drivers or passengers are not wearing a seat belt.
Kirkwood will now join a group of 17 other cities in St. Louis County who have tougher seat belt laws than the state of Missouri, which is considered to have “secondary seat belt laws.”
Missouri law says police officers may issue a ticket to a driver for not wearing a seat belt, but only if there is another traffic violation for which he or she has been pulled over.
Councilman Bob Sears voted against the measure. He said after the meeting that he believed there was not a need for this law in Kirkwood.
“I didn’t see any compelling reason why the state rule was insufficient,” Sears said.
Mayor Art McDonnell said he was concerned with the safety of drivers.
“So often you see on television all these accidents and they always say, ‘Oh well, they weren’t wearing their seat belts so they are dead’,” McDonnell said. “It seems to me so unfortunate. Other communities are doing the same thing and saying, ‘Come on, we have to get people to wear their seat belts'... We are not going to be out patrolling to see if everybody is wearing their seat belts, but if police notice it, they can stop them and give them a ticket. Hopefully it will be a deterrent.”