Saturday, June 5, 2010

States Strengthen Seat Belt and Texting Laws

/PRNewswire/ -- GHSA applauds Georgia, Kansas and Vermont for enacting new laws to improve highway safety in their states. Kansas and Georgia strengthened their seat belt and distracted driving laws, while all three states have banned texting for all drivers.

Yesterday (June 3), Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue signed a bill that removed a pickup truck exemption in that state's seat belt law. Now, all Georgians must 'Click It or Ticket.' State estimates indicate at least 100 lives annually will be saved by requiring pickup drivers to be belted. Today (June 4), Governor Perdue also signed a bill banning cell phone use for novice drivers as well a ban on texting for all drivers. Georgia is now the 28th state to ban texting for all drivers.

Earlier this week, Vermont Governor Jim Douglas added his state to the list of those with a texting while driving ban. In only three years since the first statewide texting ban, states have been quickly acting to address this problem. GHSA expects more states to come on board in the near future.

Last week, Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson signed a primary seat belt bill that allows Kansas police to stop drivers who are not buckled up. Prior to this, Kansas law enforcement officers could only issue tickets for failure to wear a seat belt if a driver was stopped for another traffic violation, such as speeding. The new law also requires all vehicle occupants to buckle up, not just those in the front seat. Kansas will get $11 million in federal funding for passing the new law, which becomes effective June 10. Governor Parkinson also recently signed a statewide texting while driving ban.

GHSA Executive Director Barbara Harsha notes, "Georgia, Vermont and Kansas have set a good example for other states by strengthening their highway safety laws. We know that primary seat belt laws are the single most effective thing states can do to save lives on their roads. And texting bans send the message that drivers need to focus on the task at hand--driving."

For a list of all state seat belt laws, visit: www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/seatbelt_laws.html.

Distracted driving laws can be found at: www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/cellphone_laws.html.

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