Buckle Up! Georgia Ends Seatbelt Exemption for Pickup Drivers

ATLANTA – Georgia is poised to join the rest of the nation in requiring adults in pickup trucks to wear seat belts, ending years of frustration by public safety advocates who had long sought to change the state law.

The Georgia House on Tuesday passed a measure that would end Georgia's distinction as the last state in the nation to specifically exempt adults in pickups from buckling up.

The measure's supporters came armed each year with frightening statistics about the number of lives that could be saved, accidents avoided and medical costs saved if Georgia tweaked the law. But each time the effort was stymied in the state House by rural lawmakers who see the rule as an unnecessary regulation.

That changed Tuesday when the measure sailed through the House by a 132-29 vote. Supporters also beat back an amendment that would have made the new rule harder to enforce.

"This is a common sense measure whose time has come," said Mickey Channell, a Greensboro Republican. "It will save lives. It will save money. And it does not cost us a dime."

The Senate has already passed the measure and it now goes to Gov. Sonny Perdue, who has indicated he would sign the legislation.

Georgia already requires minors to wear seat belts and adults to wear them in all vehicles except pickups. Indiana once took a similar position as Georgia, but the state in 2007 passed the adult seat belt law for pickups. New Hampshire has no seat belt requirement for all adults.