Pickup drivers have until July 2 to break the habit of not clicking a seat belt on local roads.
Dawson County Sheriff Billy Carlisle said his deputies will begin enforcing the state’s new seat belt law for pickups the first weekend of July.
The law, signed by Gov. Sonny Perdue June 1, went into effect immediately, though some law enforcement agencies opted to give drivers a grace period before beginning to write tickets for violators.
“It’s been years and years that drivers didn’t have to wear seat belts in a truck,” said Maj. Brandy Branson, commander for the sheriff’s patrol division. “The sad thing is that we’ve had several fatalities in pickup trucks over the last few years that more than likely could have been prevented if seat belts would have been used.
“We just want everyone to know the law has been passed.”
According to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, nearly half of all fatality crashes on rural roads involve light weight pickup trucks.
“Nearly a hundred of these lives could be saved without spending another dime of your taxes if people in pickup trucks simply buckled-up at the same rate as folks in other passenger vehicles,” the report stated.
Lt. Col. Greg Rowan, with the local sheriff’s office, said he has seen first hand how seat belts can save lives.
“Seat belts are proven life savers. I’ve seen it,” Rowan said. “I’ve seen people ejected many times, adults, ejected from trucks, little kids ejected from trucks, and many times if they had their seat belts on, they’d still be here with us.”
Agricultural use is exempt from the new law.
The fine for driving without a seat belt is $15, according to a spokeswoman in Dawson County Probate Court.