According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), car accidents are a leading cause of death for people aged one to 54, and over two million adults were treated in emergency rooms for injuries related to traffic crashes in 2012.
In addition to the new technology emerging to make car travel safer, experts still tout the importance of one simple and tested safety measure: seat belt use. The CDC reports that obeying seat belt laws can cut the risk of injury and death in a traffic accident in half, yet millions of Americans still do not buckle up when they travel the nation’s roads.
More and more, states are changing seat belt and child restraint laws to encourage drivers and passengers to use this simple measure.
Georgia Seat Belt Laws for Passenger Cars
Laws vary by state with regards to age and vehicle position. In Georgia, a passenger vehicle is defined as any vehicle designed to transport ten passengers or fewer. Also, the state has what are known as primary seat belt laws, which means law enforcement officials can stop a vehicle and issue a ticket if they observe noncompliance. In other states, seat belt citations can only be issued if the driver is stopped for another traffic infraction.
Seat belt laws in Georgia include rules for:
- Driver and front seat passengers. All drivers and front seat passengers are required by law to wear a seat belt. This is true in every state except New Hampshire. Georgia ranks among the best in the nation with compliance in this area, with 92 percent of drivers and front seat passengers using their seat belts. Failure to comply with this law could result in a ticket and a fine of $15.
- All passengers aged 8 to 17. Georgia law also states that in addition to the driver and front seat passengers, all passengers between the ages of eight and 17 must wear a seat belt, regardless of their position in the vehicle. Failure to comply with this law could result in a ticket and a $25 fine for the driver of the vehicle.
- Infants and children under age eight. Infants and children under the age of eight are to be secured in a car seat “appropriate for such child’s height and weight and approved by the United States Department of Transportation.” Infants and children should be seated in the rear of a vehicle unless that is not possible, and the seat must be secured to the vehicle according to the manufacturer’s directions. Additionally, a child may be secured with only the vehicle’s safety belt if the child weighs at least 40 pounds and has a height of 4 feet, 9 inches or more. Failure to comply with this law could result in a ticket and a fine for the driver of the vehicle of $50. Subsequent violations would receive larger fines and potentially points on the driver’s license.
The law also prohibits any person under the age of 18 from riding in the open bed of a pickup truck. A driver who allows this practice could be found guilty of a misdemeanor.
These rules to not apply to motorcycles, off-road vehicles being used by those over age 18, or any vehicle used for agricultural purposes and typical to a farmer’s daily operations.
Exceptions to Georgia Passenger Vehicle Seat Belt Laws
There are some notable exceptions to the passenger vehicle seat belt rules, which include travel in a taxi or bus, or in cases in which a medical condition prevents a passenger from being secured in the stated manner.
Other exceptions noted in Georgia statute include:
- Drivers or passengers making frequent stops and exits of the vehicle or delivering property from the vehicle. The vehicle must also not travel more than 15 mph between stops.
- Drivers operating a vehicle in reverse.
- Drivers and passengers in a vehicle with a model year prior to 1965.
- Rural letter carriers employed by the United States Postal Service.
- Drivers who are delivering newspapers.
- Drivers or passengers in a vehicle performing an emergency service.
Over 11,300 people were killed in auto accidents in Georgia between the years 2003 and 2012. This represents an average of over 1,000 people each year. In some of these cases, these deaths could have been avoided by seat belt use. Seat belt use has been proven to prevent ejections, one of the most deadly incidents in car crashes. Not only is seat belt use a way to stay safer on the roads, it is the law in Georgia.