Janet Lee

Janet Lee
Photo:Janet Lee, injured by a taxi partition.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Chief Counsel doesn't know what a seat belt is. 1986

Commonwealth of Massachusetts
 Charles V. Barry

Secretary of Public Safety

January 2, 1986

TO:        Kathi Connelly
Registry of Motor Vehicles
FROM:     Stanley E. Adelman, General Counsel Executive Office of Public Safety

RE:    Seat Belts in Taxi Cabs

In response to your inquiry, the seat belt law requires the wearing of a "safety belt", but does not define the meaning of this term.  Therefore, Massachusetts Law does not expressly require the wearing of shoulder-restraining seat belts.    This may be a matter of either federal law or national manufacturers' standards. However, the seat belt law requires that seat belts be "properly adjusted and fastened", thereby implicitly requiring that shoulder restraints generally be used where provided.

A special case is presented by those taxi cabs where removal of the shoulder restraint has been necessary in order to install a security partition.   In that situation, it would not appear that removal of the shoulder section to accommodate a taxi cab partition would run afoul of the seat belt law. However, the front lap belt equipment would have to remain to assure at least minimal compliance with the statute.

Nothing in this memo is intended to diminish or dilute the requirement that shoulder restraints be used in private cars or in taxis where the partition does not require removal of the shoulder restraint.

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