Missouri Department of Transportation is partnering with state police and local law enforcement agencies to focus efforts on promoting and enforcing existing seat belt laws and cracking down on drivers under the influence of alcohol.

These departments began a coordinated effort today which will last through next week. Among the efforts planned are checkpoints and increased patrols focused on finding drivers or passengers not wearing their seatbelts or those under the influence of alcohol.

According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, last year 217 people were killed and an additional 867 seriously injured in crashes where at least one person was driving while impaired.

Failure to use seat belts can have consequences just as serious as drunk driving. According to 2010 Missouri State Highway Patrol statistics, 67.7 percent of Missouri drivers and 63.2 percent of passengers killed in automobiles, trucks, vans, and motor homes were not wearing seat belts. By contrast, 97.3 percent of drivers involved in non-injury traffic crashes were wearing their seat belt at the time of the crash.

According to Missouri state law:

  • Everyone riding in the front seat in automobiles and trucks with a licensed gross weight of less than 12,000 pounds must wear a seat belt.
  • Children from 8 through 15 must wear seat belts regardless of the type of vehicle in which they are riding or where they are seated (front or back). Like the child restraint law, this is a primary law, meaning drivers can be pulled over for noncompliance.
  • Persons less than 18 years of age operating or riding in trucks (regardless of gross weight for which licensed) must wear seat belts.
  • No person under age 18 is allowed to ride in the unenclosed bed of a truck with a licensed gross weight of less than 12,000 pounds on lettered highways, federal and state maintained highways, and within city limits. There are exemptions for agricultural purposes, special events, and parades.
  • It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure passengers under 16 are buckled up safely. Those 16 and over are responsible for themselves.
  • Children less than 4, regardless of weight, must use an appropriate child passenger restraint system.
  • Children weighing less than 40 pounds, regardless of age, must be secured in a child passenger restraint system appropriate for the child.
  • Children from 4 to 7 who weigh at least 40 pounds but less than 80 pounds, and are less than 4-feet 9-inches tall, must be secured in a child passenger restraint system or a booster seat appropriate for that child.
  • Children who are at least 80 pounds or children taller than 4-feet 9-inches tall must be secured by a vehicle safety belt or booster seat appropriate for that child.