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Lawmakers eye increase in seat-belt fines

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Don't be surprised if there's an effort to raise Wisconsin's ultra-low fine of $10 for not wearing a seat belt.

Assembly Democrat Penny Bernard Schaber of Appleton said she would look into the idea, after Gannett's Wisconsin daily newspapers found that the state's annual "Click It Or Ticket" campaign is not working. Last year, the DOT spent around $300,000 to get Packers' star Donald Driver to encourage us to buckle up. But it didn't help, as officials said the compliance rate for Wisconsin seat-belt use held about steady at 79%.

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More folks did buckle up in 2010 than the year before. But that was because police starting using the so-called "primary enforcement," in which officers no longer had to find another traffic violation to nab you for not buckling up. The $10 tickets have not gone up ever since the state passed a seat-belt requirement 26 years ago.

Washington State charges $124 for seat belt fines, and a few other states also charge amounts in the triple digits. Erica Holmes of Washington's Traffic Safety Commission said she thought Wisconsin's $10 fine was a "typo."

Gannett said other states also started with low fines, but they've since gone up in many places. A federal study three years ago found that raising the seat-belt fine from $25 to $100 raises the amount of folks buckling up by 7%.

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