The Georgia Senate yesterday passed a long-awaited bill that Atlanta car accident lawyers have been pushing for. The bill will require pickup truck occupants to buckle up. Right now, Georgia’s seatbelt laws only apply to occupants of cars, SUVs and vans. With the passage of this bill, mandatory seatbelt laws would also apply to occupants of pickup trucks.
With this, Georgia will be in a better position to save hundreds of lives in pickup truck accidents every year. About two thirds of pickup-related fatalities every year can be traced to failure to wear seatbelts. Now that mandatory seat belts laws here, those lives can be saved.
Debate over the bill has been raging for years now, in the face of strong opposition from legislators in rural areas. The logic was that people involved in agricultural operations in rural areas would find it inconvenient to keep buckling and unbuckling as they got in and out of their trucks several times a day. The reasoning was also that there were low volumes of traffic on rural roads and therefore, a lower risk of accidents.
The passage of the bill will have another important benefit. Georgia will now be eligible for its share of federal highway funds that are only available to states with mandatory seatbelt laws. For years, Georgia has had its share of funding denied because of its failure to mandate seatbelts for all.
The bill has been a long-time coming. It came close to being passed last year amid growing concerns that the state, already battered by the recession and facing a huge budget deficit, could hardly afford to lose out on the approximately $4 million in federal highway funding because of its failure to enact mandatory seatbelt laws. These funds are now available to Georgia, and can be used to improve roads and bolster traffic safety in Atlanta, and around the state. That’s definitely good news for car accident lawyers in Atlanta.