Seat Belts Could Be Required in Nevada Cabs

By Rachelle Gines | February 27, 2009

A Nevada Senate panel heard testimony this week on a bill to let police ticket cab passengers for not wearing seat belts, and also ticket cabbies who don’t ensure that children riding in their taxis are buckled up.

SB145 would make failure to wear seat belts in cabs a primary offense. Existing law allows police to ticket unbelted persons in taxis only if the cab is already stopped for another offense or if persons in the cab are arrested for another reason.

The bill reviewed by the Senate Energy, Infrastructure and Transportation Committee and sponsored by the panel’s chairman, Sen. Mike Schneider, also would let police ticket adult cab passengers for failing to ensure their children are wearing seat belts.

Violators would be fined $25 for the first offense, and $50 for any repeat offenses. The citations wouldn’t count as moving violations. Cabbies also would have to post clear, visible signs advising passengers that they must wear seat belts.

Schneider said children were his main reason for proposing the bill, adding that organizations in southern Nevada alerted him to the issue.

“Children are riding in cabs and people get in them. Children aren’t buckled up, especially small children,” Schneider said after the hearing. “This would be a way to secure children better and reduce injuries.”

Gene Porter, representing the Frias Holding Company, proposed an amendment to prevent people not wearing seat belts in cabs and injured as a result from suing cab drivers, operators and companies, as long as signs are visible in taxis requiring passengers and children to wear seat belts.

“Our drivers are not police officers, we do not have the power to compel,” Porter said. “We hope that our passengers put seat belts on, we encourage them to put seat belts on, but if we don’t there’s not a whole lot we can do it about it.”

Ater discussion among committee members, Schneider said issues about liability raised in Porter’s proposed amendment will be worked out between committee legal staff and taxi companies before another hearing or work session is held.

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