Branson police now enforcing new seat belt ordinance

It's time to buckle up in Branson where police can now pull drivers over for not wearing a seat belt.

Prior to May 1, officers in Branson couldn’t stop drivers simply for not buckling up, however a new ordinance makes not wearing a seat belt a primary offense.

However, officers say the new ordinance is less about the stop itself and more about educating people on the importance of using seat belts.

"A lot of our fatal crashes we work involve somebody that's not a restrained passenger or driver," Sergeant Stanley Kauffman said.

Because the ordinance is new, Kauffman says for the next month or so, someone whose only offense is not wearing a seat belt likely won't result in a ticket.

"The fine doesn't really matter. If we can save one life with doing this, it has served its purpose," Kauffman said.
Branson officers say the need for this new ordinance has unfortunately hit close to home this year.

"We have had five teenagers killed in the last eight months, only one of which was wearing a seat belt. The other four were not wearing a seat belt and, from all indications of the accident, had they been seat belted, they'd be here today," Assistant Chief Eric Schmitt said.

Schmitt says the safety of a vehicle is often dependent upon the seat belt.

"Seat belt in combination with the airbags, in combination with the crunch zones of the car are designed to protect you," Schmitt said.

Some locals agree that the simple reminder could be a matter of life or death.

"Just now I pulled out of a gas station and forgot to put it on," Tony Carter said. "Just wear your seat belt. It'll save your life."

Other cities in the area have this ordinance as well. The cost of a seat belt ticket is $10.