H. B. 2106
(By Delegate Love)
[Introduced January 10, 1996; referred to the
Committee on Roads and Transportation then the
A BILL to amend and reenact section forty-nine, article fifteen,
chapter seventeen-c of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, relating to
exempting meter readers from the required use of safety
belts while reading meters.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That section forty-nine, article fifteen, chapter
seventeen-c of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine
hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read
ARTICLE 15. EQUIPMENT.
§17C-15-49. Operation of vehicles with safety belts; exception;
penalty; civil actions; educational program by division of public safety.
(a) Effective the first day of September, one thousand nine
hundred ninety-three, a person may not operate a passenger
vehicle on a public street or highway of this state unless the
person, any passenger in the back seat under eighteen years of
age, and any passenger in the front seat of such passenger
vehicle is restrained by a safety belt meeting applicable federal
motor vehicle safety standards. For the purposes of this
section, the term "passenger vehicle" means a motor vehicle which
is designed for transporting ten passengers or less, including
the driver, except that such term does not include a motorcycle,
a trailer, or any motor vehicle which is not required on the date
of the enactment of this section under a federal motor vehicle
safety standard to be equipped with a belt system. The
provisions of this section shall apply to all passenger vehicles
manufactured after the first day of January, one thousand nine
hundred sixty-seven, and being 1968 models and newer.
(b) The required use of safety belts as provided herein does
not apply to a duly appointed or contracted rural mail carrier of
the United States postal service who is actually making mail
deliveries, meter readers who are actually reading meters or to
a passenger or operator with a physically disabling condition whose physical disability would prevent appropriate restraint in
such safety belt if the condition is duly certified by a
physician who shall state the nature of the disability as well as
the reason such restraint is inappropriate. The division of
motor vehicles shall adopt rules, in accordance with the
provisions of chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, to establish a
method to certify the physical disability and to require use of
an alternative restraint system where feasible or to waive the
requirement for the use of any restraint system.
(c) Any person who violates the provisions of this section
shall be fined not more than twenty-five dollars. No court costs
or other fees shall be assessed for a violation of this section.
Enforcement of this section shall be accomplished only as a
secondary action when a driver of a passenger vehicle has been
detained for probable cause of violating another section of this
(d) A violation of this section is not admissible as
evidence of negligence or contributory negligence or comparative
negligence in any civil action or proceeding for damages, and
shall not be admissible in mitigation of damages: Provided, That
the court may, upon motion of the defendant, conduct an in camera
hearing to determine whether an injured party's failure to wear a safety belt was a proximate cause of the injuries complained
of. Upon such a finding by the court, the court may then, in a
jury trial, by special interrogatory to the jury, determine: (1)
That the injured party failed to wear a safety belt and; (2) That
the failure to wear the safety belt constituted a failure to
mitigate damages. The trier of fact may reduce the injured
party's recovery for medical damages by an amount not to exceed
five percent thereof. In the event the plaintiff stipulates to
the reduction of five percent of medical damages, the court shall
make the calculations and the issue of mitigation of damages for
failure to wear a safety belt shall not be presented to the jury.
In all cases, the actual computation of the dollar amount
reduction shall be determined by the court.
(e) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code to the
contrary, no points may be entered on any driver's record
maintained by the division of motor vehicles as a result of a
violation of this section.
(f) Commencing the first day of July, one thousand nine
hundred ninety-three, the governor's highway safety program, in
cooperation with the division of public safety and any other
state departments or agencies and with county and municipal
law-enforcement agencies, shall initiate and conduct an educational program designed to encourage compliance with safety
belt usage laws. This program shall be focused on the
effectiveness of safety belts, the monetary savings and the other
benefits to the public from usage of safety belts and the
requirements and penalties specified in this law.
(g) Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to
abrogate or alter the provisions of section forty-six of this
article relating to the mandatory use of child passenger safety
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to exempt meter readers
from the required use of safety belts.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken
from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language
that would be added.