Should Mississippi Get Tough With Seat Belt Violators?

There would be a lot fewer highway fatalities in our state, if police could ticket you for not buckling up. That's according to a study from the National Safety Council.

In Mississippi, and 29 other states, you can only be cited for not wearing your seat belt if you are pulled over for another violation. The study found that nationwide, more than 12,000 people died in the past eight years because their states did not have a primary seat belt law.

Carmen Gathers was shopping at Edgewater mall Monday afternoon. She moved here with her family two years ago from Maryland. In that state, if your seat belt is not on, you are breaking the law. Carmen says she noticed how different things were in Mississippi almost as soon as she moved here.

''I have noticed people wear their belts a lot less here," she said.

Carmen added that in Maryland, it is not uncommon to see roadblocks set up, just to check to make sure people are wearing their seat belts.

Lieutenant Alfred Sexton of the Gulfport Police Department agrees it is time Mississippi makes the failure to wear your seat belt, a primary violation.

"As a law enforcement officer, when you see so many lives lost, often because someone just failed to buckle up, I think we need to look at making some changes to our laws," Sexton says.