Debate Over Making Seat Belt Law A Primary Violation Revs Up

As it now stands in Nebraska, you can't be pulled over for not wearing a seat belt. There's an effort to change that in the Legislature, but whether it passes remains the question.

Mackenzie Bougher has only been driving for about a year, but she already has a story about the importance of seat belts that resonates. “Thinking about how what I went through could save people's lives, makes it easier to think about.”

She was only about a mile from home last December 5th when another driver ran a stop sign. “If you didn't know the story you would say the person in the Hummer passed away,” said dad Kraig Bougher, who saw the accident on the way to the hospital. Mackenzie was wearing a seat belt and her only injury was a broken thumb.

The driver of the other vehicle was killed. He was not wearing a seat belt. "If he would have buckled up he would have walked away from it," said Kraig.

“If I see a vehicle going down the roadway and the driver or passenger in the front seat doesn't have a seat belt on, without any other violation I can't stop the car,” said La Vista Police Sgt. Todd Armburst.

There are two proposals in the Unicameral to change that. If passed, officers like Sgt. Armburst would have the leeway to stop a vehicle strictly for a seat belt violation, front or back seat and regardless of age.

Nebraska lawmakers have resisted in the past and state Sen. Bob Krist, who is pushing for change, tells Channel 6 News it's happening again and the bill may not make it out of committee. "It's the big brother attitude, too much government intrusion."

More than half of the states have stronger seat belt laws and research indicates seat belt use is at 86 percent in those states. “If they raise the fee to $100, if that's what it takes then I'm all for it, I'm all for saving lives," said Kraig.

"It's just now you realize what matters and the little things that don't matter in life,” said Mackenzie. Her father took the wreckage of her SUV to her school so the students would see what a difference a seat belt can make.

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