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Top lawmakers offer no assurances on seat belt law

A Senate study committee has recommended legislation requiring everyone to buckle up. But at a press conference Monday, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan offered something less than an endorsement.      Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com
A Senate study committee has recommended legislation requiring everyone to buckle up. But at a press conference Monday, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan offered something less than an endorsement.  Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com

Credit: bandres@ajc.com

Credit: bandres@ajc.com

Traffic safety advocates hope the General Assembly will strengthen Georgia’s seat belt law this year. But key leaders of the state House and Senate offered no assurances that such legislation would pass in public comments in recent days.

Current Georgia law requires drivers and front-seat passengers to buckle up. It also requires anyone 17 and under riding in back seats to be restrained. But adults riding in back seats are not required to wear seat belts.

Senate study committee has recommended legislation requiring everyone to buckle up. But at a press conference Monday, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan offered something less than an endorsement.

“I’d have to look at it,” Duncan told reporters.

“I know in our household, all of our kids buckle up, for sure,” he said. “I’ve got a new sense of this. I’ve got a 17-year-old son who’s driving. We’ll certainly look at that issue and try to make the best decision possible out of this office.”

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House Speaker David Ralston likewise seemed to like the idea of seat belts without endorsing legislation at his own press conference last Thursday.

“I have not seen that report,” the speaker said. “I would want to see what the data says in terms of the benefit from that.”

Still, Ralston said he's no Tom Murphy – the former House speaker who staunchly opposed seat belt legislation. Ralston noted that in 2010 he allowed a vote on the bill that eliminated a seat belt exemption for pickup trucks.

“We’ll look at it,” Ralston said of the latest proposal. “Whatever we can do at the end of the day to make driving safer for Georgians is something we have to do.”

You can learn more about the seat belt issue here.

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