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10 CHAPTER 3 REGULATORY FRAMEWORK Federal regulations and most states clearly require the use of inspections. Additionally, the number of tickets written by safety belts by CMV drivers. Federal law requires that trucks states varies widely. and truck tractors manufactured on or after January 1, 1965, be Some states adopt the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regu- equipped with a safety belt assembly meeting requirements lations (FMCSR) administratively, which effectively makes specified in federal regulations. those regulations enforceable as state law, whether or not the The specific federal requirements are set out in the Code of state has a primary or secondary safety belt law. Other states Federal Regulations (CFRs), as follows: have motor carrier safety laws and regulations compatible with the FMCSR that include a safety belt provision. 49 CFR 392.16 Use of seat belts. State and local motor carrier officers--those certified to conduct Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) inspec- A commercial motor vehicle which has a seat belt assembly installed at the driver's seat shall not be driven unless the tions--are authorized to write a safety belt violation on a driver has properly restrained himself / herself with the seat CMV inspection report, whether they write an enforcement belt assembly. citation for this violation or not. FMCSA officials indicate that while non-motor carrier officers can write a citation for safety 49 CFR 393.93 Seats, seat belt assemblies, and seat belt belt violations pursuant to state law (subject to the complica- assembly anchorages. tions mentioned previously), they may not write that violation (b) Trucks and truck tractors-- on an inspection report unless they are certified to conduct a motor carrier inspection. (b)(1) Trucks and truck tractors manufactured on and after An FMCSA agent may write a safety belt violation on an January 1, 1965, and before July 1, 1971. Except as provided inspection report and has authority to take enforcement action in paragraph (d) of this section, after June 30, 1972, every truck and truck tractor manufactured on or after January 1, for such violations in interstate commerce. However, there are 1965, and before July 1, 1971, must be equipped with a Type 1 significant complications with FMCSA taking enforcement or Type 2 seat belt assembly that conforms to Federal Motor action against drivers for these violations resulting from road- Vehicle Safety Standard No. 209 (§ 571.209) installed at the side inspections. Unlike the states, FMCSA does not have a driver's seat and at the right front outboard seat, if the vehicle simple way to issue citations or tickets. The agency issues has one, and seat belt assembly anchorages that conform to the location and geometric requirements of Federal Motor Vehi- claim letters and is required to take into consideration several cle Safety Standard No. 210 (§ 571.210) for each seat belt factors to calculate the penalty before the agency determines assembly that is required by this subparagraph. the penalty amount. The enforcement issue is highlighted in a recent FMCSA (b)(2) Trucks and truck tractors manufactured on or after July 1, 1971. Every truck and truck tractor manufactured on report titled, MCMIS (Motor Carrier Management Informa- or after July 1, 1971, except a truck or truck tractor being tion System) Safety Belt (392.16) Violations Cited During transported in driveaway-towaway operation and having an Inspections Conducted from Jan 1, 2003 to Dec 31, 2003. The incomplete vehicle seating and cab configuration, must con- report indicated that 52,000 safety belt violations out of close form to the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety to 3 million inspections were recorded. An average of 1.8% Standard No. 208-1 (§ 571.208) (relating to installation of does not appear to be consistent with other study results that seat belt assemblies) and Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Stan- dard No. 210-1 (§ 571.210) (relating to installation of seat indicate only 48% of CMV drivers wear their safety belts. In belt assembly anchorages). percentage terms, the number of citations ranged from a low of 0.3% in the District of Columbia, South Dakota, and Wyoming While the federal regulations are clear, the degree to which to a high of 7.5% in Massachusetts. this provision of the regulations is enforced by states varies Finally, the regulatory area cannot be fully understood with- from one state to another according to their unique laws, poli- out an appreciation of the difference between primary and sec- cies, and procedures. There is significant variance in the level ondary state enforcement laws. As defined by the NHTSA, of enforcement of safety belt violations found during roadside these are as follows:
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11 · Primary Enforcement allows a law enforcement offi- At last count (January 2004), 20 states, the District of Colum- cer to stop a vehicle and issue a citation when the officer bia, and Puerto Rico had primary safety belt laws in effect. observes an unbelted driver or passenger. Twenty-nine states had secondary enforcement laws and one · Secondary Enforcement means that a citation for not state (New Hampshire) had no adult safety belt use law. In wearing a safety belt can only be written after the offi- 2003, the average safety belt use rate in states with primary cer stops the vehicle or cites the offender for another enforcement laws, as reported by NHTSA, was 8 percentage infraction. points higher than in states without primary enforcement.