Statewide Seat Belt Campaign Kicks Off

By  | 

Police have started a "No Excuses" campaign to get Nevadans to wear their seat belts - but the effort doesn't say that motorists can't be cited for not wearing a seat belt unless they're pulled over for another traffic offense.

The advertisements for the "No Exceptions, No Excuses, Buckle Up Nevada" campaign state, "If you are pulled over and you're also not wearing a seat belt, you are subject to get a ticket." A fine plus fees push the seat belt citation total to $67.

"Officers can't pull anyone over just for not wearing safety belts," said Chuck Abbott, administrator of the state Office of Traffic Safety. "If they pull you over and say your tail lights are out, they can give you a ticket."

"There is no intention to pull the wool over anyone or make Nevada's secondary seat belt law a primary offense," he added Monday.

But Greg Bortolin, spokesman for Gov. Kenny Guinn, said the advertisement "could be a little clearer."

"I don't think it is intentionally misleading," Bortolin said. "The intention is to promote seat belt use."

Abbott's office reports 1,301 people died on Nevada highway accidents in the past five years, and 792 of those accident victims weren't wearing safety belts.

He said a survey last year found 79 percent of Nevadans wore safety belts, about the same rate as the national average. But in states where seat belt violations are a primary offense, the compliance rate is about 90 percent. In 1997, Nevada's buckle up rate was 70 percent.

The state received a $600,000 federal grant for the seat belt campaign. About $300,000 will go to advertising.

The seat belt rate in Nevada dropped to 71.8 percent just before the start of the new campaign, Abbott said. He said he expected the two-week campaign will increase usage by about 6 percentage points, the same as last year.