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Do folks such as police and bus drivers have to wear seat belts?

Kellen Moore

Whether you see them as a necessity or a nuisance, seatbelts are required by law in North Carolina.

Several readers wrote questions to MyReporter about whether that law applies to everyone, including WAVE Transit drivers and police officers.

The statute says that each occupant must wear a seatbelt when a vehicle is in forward motion on a street or highway, and it lays out only a few exceptions.

Those exempt from seatbelt requirements include rural letter carriers, motor home occupants besides those in the front seats, occupants in the back of police cars or those with certified phobias of seatbelts.

Drivers of garbage or recycling trucks, people with medical conditions that prevent seatbelt use and delivery-type drivers who don’t exceed 20 mph between stops also don’t have to wear a seatbelt, the law states.

Take note: It doesn’t say that bus drivers or cops are off the hook.

Although bus drivers are urged to wear seatbelts, supervisors can’t constantly observe them, WAVE assistant director Arlanda Rouse said.

“All of our seatbelts are bright orange, so it’s pretty clear if they’re wearing it or not,” Rouse said.

And for police, at least in Wilmington, there is an internal policy in addition to the law that mandates the use of seatbelts, said Lucy Crockett, public affairs officer for the Wilmington Police Department.

Citizens who see a police officer without a seatbelt can file a complaint, which is investigated by the department’s professional standards division. Depending on the circumstances, an officer could face verbal counseling, a written reprimand, days off duty or other discipline, Crockett said.

Seatbelt violations can result in penalties of up to $25 and $75 court costs, but no drivers license points or insurance surcharges may be issued, the statute says.

Those who see a driver without a seatbelt on can call WAVE transit at (910) 343-0106 or the appropriate law enforcement office.

User-contributed question by:
Mike Messick

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3 Responses to “ Do folks such as police and bus drivers have to wear seat belts?”

  1. On January 25, 2010 at 8:26 am Jeff wrote:

    How come bus drivers in Wilmington (WAVE) still dont wear seatbelts most of the time ? I see a few because is hard to miss an orange seatbelt across the chest, but most dont wear it, is even worse on the smaller GMC buses, for the times I have riden on them I bet 90% of the time they dont wear them.

    Dont they have supervisors for those drivers ? All they have to do is stand in a corner street in Wilmington and catch them not wearing them.

  2. On February 1, 2010 at 5:20 pm Braxton Williams wrote:

    I also wonder if antique cars (I have a 1949 Packard) that were never fitted with seat belts are exempt?

  3. On March 26, 2010 at 1:34 pm Charles wrote:

    The Packard is exempt as the law reads “each occupant of a motor vehicle manufactured with seat belts” so if it wasn’t manufactured with seat belts, you are exempt.

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