Seat belt violations would be more costly under a bill approved Tuesday by the Louisiana House Transportation Committee.

The proposal, House Bill 751, won approval without objection and next faces a vote in the full House.

Under HB751, first-time violations for failing to wear safety belts would carry a $50 fine, up from $25 now.

Second-time offenders would face $75 penalties, up from $50 now.

Those who are three-time or more offenders also would face $75 fines as well as court costs.

State Rep. Walt Leger III, D-New Orleans, sponsor of the measure, said studies show usage rises when penalties do.

Leger noted that seat belt compliance is just under the U.S. average.

The national average is 87 percent.

The rate in Louisiana is 85.9 percent.

Increased seat belt reliance also is cited as a key reason for a nearly 30 percent drop in traffic deaths between 2007-13, the latest tally available.

Rep. Terry Landry, D-Lafayette, former superintendent of the State Police, said the state should consider seat belt violations a moving violation, like speeding.

“It is a moving violation,” Landry told Leger. “Have you ever thought about that?”

Leger said that, while safety belt citations are tracked by the state, they do not count against a motorist’s driving record like a speeding ticket.

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