According to Pickuptrucks.com, the Georgia Senate has passed a law requiring the use of seat belts in pickup trucks after debating the issue for years. Previously, only front-seat passengers in cars, SUVs, and vans were required to wear seat belts by law.
The vote passed the Senate 45-2, and the bill exempts off-road vehicles and trucks that are being used for farming. Indeed, it was rural legislators who had prevented the bill from passing earlier, as they argued that farmers need to hop into and out of trucks quickly, and that lack of traffic on rural roads meant the safety precaution was unnecessary.
Pickuptrucks.com reports that more than two-thirds of pickup-truck related fatalities in Georgia were the result of drivers and passengers not wearing the belts during accidents. By passing the law, the state expects to save $25 million in Medicaid costs over a 10-year time frame and it will also receive federal highway funding that had been withheld due to the lack of a seat-belt requirement, according to Pickuptrucks.com.
I have farmers in my family, and I know that some times farmers cruise empty roads without putting on a seatbelt. But that shouldn't exempt truckers in busier areas from having to buckle up. Besides, most farmers will likely continue to ignore the law anyway, given the emptiness of rural roads. It's good to see Georgia on board with seatbelt laws--the more urban parts of the state will no longer have to suffer poor road conditions due to a lack of federal funding for highway repair.