Benefits of Modifying Georgia Seatbelt Law to Prevent Auto Collision Fatalities
While some people consider mandatory seatbelt laws as an infringement of personal liberty imposed by the nanny state, a recent Atlanta Constitution Journal (AJC) editorial suggested Georgia should update its seatbelt restrictions. Although Georgia and a majority of states do not compel adult occupants in the back seat to buckle up, the AJC editorial suggests that the legislature should adopt the position of the majority of other states, which requires all vehicle occupants to wear a seatbelt. Our Atlanta car accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, recognize the merits of the position taken by the writer of the editorial in promoting public safety and making Georgia roadways safer.
A universal seatbelt law could provide a way to reduce traffic fatalities because of the high rate of passenger fatalities in Georgia motor vehicle crashes involving passengers who are not using a safety restraint. Passengers riding in the backseat face a three-fold increased risk of dying in a car accident if they are not wearing a seat belt according to the Governors for Highway Safety Association. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that seatbelt use constitutes the most important safety measure vehicle occupants can employ to mitigate injury and prevent death in a collision. The NHTSA also reports that seatbelts are 45-60 percent effective in preventing traffic fatalities. The agency has determined that seatbelts have saved the lives of over 300,000 people in the U.S. since 1975.
Although universal seatbelt use obtained by voluntary compliance might be desirable, a significant body of research reveals that the number of people buckled up increases when states adopt universal seatbelt laws. Seatbelt use by adult front seat passengers is 87 percent but only 78 percent for rear seat passengers throughout the United States. This disparity may be explained by the fact that some states do not require rear seat passengers to wear a seatbelt. States with primary seatbelt laws, which permit a motorist to be stopped and ticketed solely for non-compliance with the seatbelt law, benefit from much higher compliance rates than more lenient seatbelt laws. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta conducted a systematic review of thirteen high-quality studies that revealed that primary laws increase usage by approximately fourteen percentage points.
Under current Georgia law, vehicle occupants from ages 6 to 17 must buckle up no matter where they are sitting in the vehicle. However, vehicle occupants 18 and over can elect not to wear a seatbelt in the backseat. Because adults do not have to use a seatbelt in the back of a vehicle, many passengers take this option, which results in preventable catastrophic injuries and tragic fatalities.
The AJC editorial promoting a change in Georgia's seat belt laws referenced a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. According to the study, approximately 18 percent of drivers indicated they had driven without buckling up during the one-month period immediately before the study. Fifteen percent of drivers indicated they had driven without buckling up on multiple occasions during that same period. Further, 5.5 percent of study participants admitted to driving without a seatbelt on a fairly regular basis.
Put Our Law Firm's Over 35 Years of Experience to Work For You!
Our Georgia car accident attorneys recognize the traffic safety benefits associated with following the AJC recommendation. In the event you have a viable case, our experienced car accident attorneys are dedicated to pursuing the fullest recovery for our clients. Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, has been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and in the Southeast for over thirty years, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.
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