Budget brings driving changes - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Budget brings driving changes

MADISON (WKOW) -- The just-signed state budget changes your life on Wisconsin's roads.

You can now get pulled over for not wearing a seat belt.

And by next year, having auto insurance will be mandatory.

It is predicted more people will be buckling up and some drivers will be motivated to purchase insurance as a result of these changes.

However, compliance could turn on a ten-dollar bill.

That's the amount of the fine for violating the seat belt law.   State officials say the fine amount has remained the same for more than two decades.

It is the lowest fine for the violation among the 49 states which have a seat belt law.   For comparison, Illinois' fine is $55, California $88, Washington $124, Texas $200.

Ray Tyson of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said fines should be high enough "to catch people's attention."  

But Tyson said Wisconsin's change from secondary seat belt enforcement (enforcement predicated on a motorist being pulled over for another violation)  to primary enforcement should increase seat belt useage by at least 10%.

"The fact that they now have the ability to stop you if you're not wearing your seat belt is in and of itself going to encourage more people to wear theit belts."

By next summer, when having car insurance becomes mandatory in Wisconsin, there will also be fines involved.

The fine for failing to produce proof of auto insurance?   $10.

Executive vice president Ronald Haden of the Professional Insurance Agents of Wisconsin said that's no deterrent.

"None.   Think about it:  $10."

But Haden said most wisconsinites are not at risk of breaking the new law.   Haden said the rate of motorists with auto insurance in the state is already high.

State transportation officials said primary seat belt enforcement will being immediately.

There will also be a corresponding study of traffic stops to flag any racial profiling.

The auto insurance requirement begins July 1, 2010.

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