After years of debate, the Georgia Senate finally approved legislation requiring the use of seat belts for people in pickup trucks.
Until now, the Peach State only required passengers in the front seats of cars, vans and SUVs to buckle up. The hold-up on the measure came from Georgia's rural legislators, who argue that wearing a seat belt is an inconvenience for farmers and farm workers who frequently hop in and out of their pickups as they tend the fields. They also say there is too little traffic on Georgia's backcountry farm roads to worry about the risk of colliding with another vehicle.
The new bill, which the Senate approved on a 45-2 vote, exempts off-road vehicles and pickups used for farming.
According to the Georgia Senate, more than two-thirds of pickup truck-related deaths resulted from passengers not wearing a seat belt in an accident. Requiring seat-belt use is expected to save $25 million in Medicaid costs over a 10-year period. Georgia also would become eligible for federal highway funding assistance that is being withheld until the seat-belt gap is closed.
Georgia and New Hampshire (which doesn't have any laws requiring adults to buckle up) are the only states that don't require passengers to wear seat belts in pickups.