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Massachusetts Seat Belt Law Referendum, Question 2 (1994)

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The Massachusetts Seat Belt Law Referendum, also known as Question 2, was on the November 8, 1994 ballot in Massachusetts as a veto referendum. It was approved.

The referendum required drivers and passengers in certain motor vehicles on public roads to fasten safety belts.

Election results

Question 2 (Seat Belt Law)
Approveda Yes 1,240,271 55.6%

Official results via: The Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth

Text of measure

(A "yes" vote on this referendum upholds the legislature's seat belt law; a "no" vote repeals it)

This law requires drivers and passengers in certain motor vehicles on public ways to wear properly adjusted and fastened safety belts. The law applies to persons driving or riding in private passenger motor vehicles or riding in vanpool vehicles or trucks under 18,000 pounds. It also applies to employees of cities, towns, counties, and districts. The law does not apply to: (1) children under twelve years of age who are required by another state law to use safety belts or other child passenger restraints; (2) vehicles manufactured before July 1, 1966; (3) persons certified by a physician as physically unable to use safety belts; (4) U.S. Postal Service rural carriers while performing their duties; (5) persons involved in operating taxis, liveries, tractors, trucks of 18,000 pounds or more, buses; or (6) passengers in authorized emergency vehicles.

The law is enforced by law enforcement agencies only when a driver has been stopped for a motor vehicle violation or some other offense. A driver and each passenger 16 years or older may be fined $25 for not using a safety belt when required. A driver may also be fined $25 for each passenger between 12 and 16 years old who is not using a safety belt when required. A person who receives a citation for violating the law may challenge it using the same procedure that applies to most other automobile law violations. A violation is not considered a moving violation for motor vehicle insurance surcharge purposes.

The law directs the state Registrar of Motor Vehicles to require police officers, when reporting automobile accidents, to record whether safety belts were used. The law directs the Governor's Highway Safety Bureau to (1) conduct a public information and education program on motor vehicle occupant protection; (2) evaluate and report to the Legislature, by June 1, 1995, on the effectiveness of and degree of compliance with the law; and (3) make annual surveys of safety belt use.

The law requires the state Commissioner of Insurance to evaluate, report, and make recommendations to the Legislature concerning the effectiveness of the law and the frequency of bodily injury claims during the law's first year of operation. The Commissioner must also require at least a 5% reduction in bodily injury insurance premiums if the observed safety belt use rate among all vehicle occupants is 50% or more after the law's first year of operation. The Commissioner is required to take into account the annual safety belt use survey results in future decisions setting bodily injury premiums, and the Commissioner must further reduce those premiums if the safety belt use rate in Massachusetts exceeds the national average.

The law provides that failure to wear a properly fastened safety belt may not be considered as contributory negligence or used as evidencein any lawsuit. It also states that no insurance company may either (1) deny coverage to a person who failed to wear a safety belt during an accident that led to bodily injury, or (2) refuse to issue a motor vehicle liability policy based on a violation of this law.[1][2]

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  1. Secretary of the Commonwealth, Public Document No. 43 Massachusetts Election Statistics 1994
  2. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.