Reported from the Committee on Civil & Administrative Law, February 20, 1997, with recommendation that the House Committee Substitute for House Bill No. 100 Do Pass.
ANNE C. WALKER, Chief Clerk
To repeal section 307.178, RSMo 1994, relating to motor vehicle safety requirements, and to
enact in lieu thereof two new sections relating to the same subject, with penalty provisions.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the state of Missouri, as follows:
Section A. Section 307.178, RSMo 1994, is repealed and two new sections enacted in lieu thereof, to be known as sections 307.178 and 1, to read as follows:
307.178. 1. As used in this section, the term "passenger car" means every motor vehicle designed for carrying ten persons or less and used for the transportation of persons; except that, the term "passenger car" shall not include motorcycles, motorized bicycles, motor tricycles and trucks with a gross weight greater than twelve thousand pounds.
2. Each driver, except persons employed by the United States Postal Service while performing duties for that federal agency which require the operator to service postal boxes from their vehicles, or which require frequent entry into and exit from their vehicles, and front seat passenger of a passenger car manufactured after January 1, 1968, operated on a street or highway in this state, shall wear a properly adjusted and fastened safety belt that meets federal National Highway, Transportation and Safety Act requirements; except that, a child less than four years of age shall be protected as required in section 210.104, RSMo. Each driver of a motor vehicle transporting a child four years of age or more, but less than sixteen years of age, [in the front seat of the motor vehicle] shall secure the child in a properly adjusted and fastened safety belt. No person shall be stopped, inspected, or detained solely to determine compliance with this subsection. The provisions of this section shall not be applicable to persons who have a medical reason for failing to have a seat belt fastened about [his or her] their body, nor shall the provisions of this section be applicable to persons while operating or riding a motor vehicle being used in agricultural work-related activities on agricultural property.
3. In any action to recover damages arising out of the ownership, common maintenance or operation of a motor vehicle, failure to wear a safety belt in violation of this section shall not be considered evidence of comparative negligence. Failure to wear a safety belt in violation of this section may be admitted to mitigate damages, but only under the following circumstances:
(1) Parties seeking to introduce evidence of the failure to wear a safety belt in violation of this section must first introduce expert evidence proving that a failure to wear a safety belt contributed to the injuries claimed by plaintiff;
(2) If the evidence supports such a finding, the trier of fact may find that the plaintiff's failure to wear a safety belt in violation of this section contributed to the plaintiff's claimed injuries, and may reduce the amount of the plaintiff's recovery by an amount not to exceed one percent of the damages awarded after any reductions for comparative negligence.
4. Each person who violates the provisions of subsection 2 of this section [after July 1, 1987, shall be] is guilty of an infraction for which a fine not to exceed ten dollars may be imposed. All other provisions of law and court rules to the contrary notwithstanding, no court costs shall be imposed on any person due to a violation of this section. In no case shall points be assessed against any person, pursuant to section 302.302, RSMo, for a violation of this section.
5. The department of public safety shall initiate and develop a program of public information to develop understanding of, and ensure compliance with the provisions of this section. The department of public safety shall evaluate the effectiveness of this section and shall include a report of its findings in the annual evaluation report on its highway safety plan that it submits to NHTSA and FHWA [under] pursuant to 23 U.S.C. 402.
Section 1. 1. No person shall operate any truck, as defined in section 301.010, RSMo, with a gross weight of twelve thousand pounds or less on any highway which is part of the state or federal highway system or when such truck is operated within the corporate limits of any city when any person under eighteen years of age is riding in the unenclosed bed of such truck. No person under eighteen years of age shall ride in the unenclosed bed of such truck when the truck is in operation. Any person who operates a truck with a gross weight of twelve thousand pounds or less in violation of this section is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
2. The provisions of this section shall only apply when a truck described in subsection 1 of this section is operated on a highway which is part of the state or federal highway system or when such truck is operated within the corporate limits of any city. The provisions of this section shall not apply to:
(1) An employee engaged in the necessary discharge of the employee's duties where it is necessary to ride in the unenclosed bed of the truck;
(2) Any person while engaged in agricultural activities where it is necessary to ride in the unenclosed bed of the truck;
(3) Any person riding in the unenclosed bed of a truck while such truck is being operated in a parade, caravan or exhibition which is authorized by law;
(4) Any person riding in the unenclosed bed of a truck if such truck has installed a means of preventing such person from being discharged or such person is secured to the truck in a manner which will prevent the person from being thrown, falling or jumping from the truck;
(5) Any person riding in the unenclosed bed of a truck if such truck is being operated solely for the purposes of participating in a special event and it is necessary that the person ride in such unenclosed bed due to a lack of available seating. "Special event", for the purposes of this section, is a specific social activity of a definable duration which is participated in by the person riding in the unenclosed bed; or
(6) Any person riding in the unenclosed bed of a truck if such truck is being operated
solely for the purposes of providing assistance to, or ensuring the safety of, other persons
engaged in a recreational activity.
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