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Seatbelt Laws, Accident Rates, and a $4 Million Grant for Georgia

Georgia’s ongoing budget crisis may actually be a blessing in disguise for the state’s motorists – the state has an incentive for passing seatbelt laws that come in the welcome form of a $4 million federal grant, which would not only add to the state’s depleted coffers, but also reduce the number of accident-related fatalities in the state.

The state is the last one in the country that continues to allow pick up truck drivers to drive without seatbelts.All minors and adults are required to buckle up on other vehicles, however. This pick up truck exemption has come in the way of a fund of $4 million which the federal government has tied to a state’s enactment of seatbelt laws.Georgia however has stubbornly refused to make it mandatory for pick up drivers to snap on their seat belts, and has lost out on the funding, thus far.

Now however, the situation is markedly different, and cries for mandatory seat belt laws that can help save thousands of lives a year, are getting louder. One of the weapons in the armor of proponents of making seat belts mandatory on all vehicles without exception, is of course the $4 million grant that the state would receive if it passed these laws.The state currently faces a budget deficit that is set to exceed $2 billion, and with the economy in the shape it’s in, there’s no telling how deep the deficit could go.

It’s not as if Georgia has been in the dark about the important role that seatbelts can play in preventing major injuries and deaths in automobile accidents.According to the National Highway Transportation Safety board (NHTSB), mandatory buckling up for all motorists in the state would save at least 21 lives in Georgia, and prevent more than 300 injuries every year. Atlanta’s car accident lawyers who often get to see at close range the kind of crushing and destructive injuries when drivers and passengers who have not buckled up are thrown against the windshield, have long called for mandatory seatbelt laws for all drivers. Yet, legislators have been stubborn about enacting such laws.According to lawmakers, buckling up is a basic safety measure, and drivers should be able to do so without a specific law that tells them to do it.

Across the country, the last vestiges of resistance to seatbelt safety laws are falling. Indiana, which once held out against mandatory buckling up for all, enacted mandatory seatbelts laws in 2007, making it eligible for the $4 million prize.As Georgia’s economy continues to flounder, and the money continues to allure, we might just have mandatory buckling up on all pick ups very soon.That’s good news for motorists who drive the pickups, as well as their passengers.A single life saved in an accident on Georgia’s roads is more than worth the effort.

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