South Carolina Drivers Told to Buckle Up - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

12/07/05

South Carolina Drivers Told to Buckle Up

They're making the law a lot tougher, and don't need another reason to stop you. Wearing your seatbelt is the law in South Carolina, but beginning Friday, officers will have more authority to enforce it.

Driving without your seatbelt can be deadly.

"Of the more than 1,000 people that have been killed in car crashes this year, only about 200 of them were wearing their seatbelts at the time," Lance Corp. Paul Brouthers with the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

Although buckling up only takes a couple of seconds, officers say there are some who still don't take the time. "What we see mostly is young people, 16 to 34, are the most likely violators and they are also the most likely people to be in car crashes," Brouthers told us.

And statistics like those are driving South Carolina lawmakers to tighten up seatbelt laws. Beginning Friday, seatbelt violations will be a primary violation for those 18 and older.

"In the past, if you were 18 and over, you had to have an accompanying charge, speeding and no seatbelt, expired tags and no seatbelt," explained Brouthers.

But now officers don't have to have another reason. They can pull a driver over for simply not wearing a seatbelt or having a passenger in who's not buckled up.

"The intent of the legislation is we'll have more motorists buckle up so those tickets won't have to be written in the first place," said Brouthers.

Although not everyone is in favor of this change in the law, most people we talked with don't have a problem with it. "That's the law they're enforcing, so, hey, you've got to live with it," said driver Shawn Adkins, a Jasper County resident. "Nothing you can do about it. You've got to abide by the law."

"I think it's great," said Melissa Fanger of Beaufort County. "They should be able to do that."

A ticket for a seatbelt violation will cost you the same as in the past, $25. But officers say they're not after the tickets. They just want people to buckle up.

Georgia has had this law in effect for quite some time.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com

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