CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Senate Transportation Committee members unanimously approved a bill Tuesday to make failure to wear seat belts a primary traffic offense.
Although the legislation has been introduced numerous times in past years, Committee Chairman Bob Beach, D-Monongalia, said he's confident the bill has momentum this year.
"I honestly believe the time has come," Beach said of toughening enforcement of the state's mandatory seat-belt law. "With the passage last year of the texting and cellphone bills, the timing is exactly right for this bill."
Last year, West Virginia became the 41st state to prohibit texting on cellphones while driving. Texting became a primary offense -- meaning police officers can pull over drivers for that violation alone -- last July 1.
Use of a hand-held cellphone currently is a secondary offense under that law, but becomes a primary offense this July 1.
Beach said the timing is right to toughen the state's mandatory seat-belt law, currently a secondary offense, to make it a primary offense, consistent with texting and use of cellphones.
"This is about enhanced safety for the people of West Virginia, and those who travel through the state," he said.