Lawmakers get tough on seatbelt laws - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Lawmakers get tough on seatbelt laws

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February 10, 2003

Albany- Buckling up is a normal routine for many drivers, but some lawmakers want to make it mandatory for everyone. Right now, you don't have to buckle up in pickup trucks or the back seats of cars. The proposed bill would change that.

Billy Holloway, sells cars and says about 60% of his truck buyers are seatbelt users.

"I don't think it would affect whether they buy or not. They may feel uncomfortable about it," he says.

Some motorists fear seatbelts will trap them in the event of an accident, but Robert Gilliam of A-1 Wrecker has seen lots of accidents and agrees everyone should be restrained.

"Very seldom does it hinder, its always a plus restraining someone in a vehicle. It's very easily cut if needed to be," explains Gilliam.

The bill doesn't stop at just trying to make everyone buckle up. If it passes, violators will have to dig deeper into their pockets. Lawmakers want to raise the fine from $15 to a whopping $200. Some say that's just too much.

"$200 seems to be a little steep with the way the economy is today," says Barry Saarinen.

"15 to 50 would be all right, but 200 that's their grocery money and rent," exclaims Julius Brown.

The chairman of the House Motor Vehicle Committee says the $200 fine is a little steep, but he likes the idea of removing the pick up truck exemption.

The representative who drafted the bill says the tough new rules would save lives. He came up with the idea after losing the battle to raise the minimum driving age.

Posted at 9:50 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com