Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, December 18, 2015

Seat belt fines to double Jan. 1

It’s time to buckle up or pay up, Tennessee. As of Jan. 1, the fine for not wearing a seatbelt while driving will be doubled. The fine for a first offense will be raised to $25, while subsequent offenses will be increased to $50.

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the Tennessee Highway Patrol, and the Tennessee Department of Transportation called for the increase in an effort to curb traffic fatalities in the state.

“So far this year, state troopers have issued over 107,000 seat belt citations,” Commissioner Bill Gibbons of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security said. “That is a 255 percent increase over the same time period in 2010. We will continue to make this a priority, but we hope the day will come when it’s difficult for a state trooper to find a motorist not wearing a seat belt. We hope the tougher fines will encourage motorists to obey the law.”

Along with announcing the seatbelt fine increase, the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security said the Tennessee Highway Patrol will be out in force during the holiday period to ensure travelers reach their destination safely. State troopers will focus their attention on traffic violations that place motorists in jeopardy, such as distracted driving, speeding, impaired driving, and lack of seat belt usage. The holiday enforcement period will begin at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 24 and conclude at midnight on Dec. 27.

The THP will utilize several enforcement tools, including saturation patrols, bar and tavern checks, and driver license and sobriety checkpoints to help reduce serious injury and fatal crashes over the holiday season.

During the 2014 Christmas holiday, seven people were killed on Tennessee roadways in seven fatal crashes. Alcohol was involved in 71.4 percent of those crashes, and three of the six vehicle occupants killed were not wearing seat belts. There was also one pedestrian killed during the 96-hour holiday period.

Source: Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security