Georgia Considers Making Safety Belts Mandatory in Pickup Trucks
ATLANTA --- Georgia lawmakers are considering a bill that would make seat belts mandatory in pickup trucks. Pickup trucks have long been exempted from the state's seat belt law.Opponents of the bill argue that it would inconvenience farmers on rural roads. Some critics also see such a law as a sign of eroding personal freedom, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. The issue has triggered a debate over freedom versus safety because the pickup truck is such an enduring symbol of rugged independence. The state's seat belt law already applies to SUVs and to pickup drivers under the age of 18.The bill was sponsored by Senator Don Thomas, a Republican. In 2005, 271 pickup truck drivers were killed in traffic crashes. Of those, 189 were not wearing seat belts.The Georgia Senate passed the bill last month, but it has not yet passed in the House.In the South, about 75 percent of pickup drivers wear seat belts, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That figure has increased 19 percent since 2000.