Georgia Code 40-8-79 states that “it shall be unlawful for any person under the age of 18 to ride as a passenger in the uncovered bed of a pickup truck on any interstate highway in this state,” according to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. And on Memorial Day the likelihood that someone might travel in the back of a pickup truck from one part of a Georgia highway to another–like from one exit in the county to the next exit, is highly likely. Yet many drivers do not realize that letting youth under the age of 18 ride in the back of a pickup truck on a Georgia highway is against the law.
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208 states that “each occupant of the front seat of a passenger vehicle shall, while such passenger vehicle is being operated on a public road, street, or highway of this state, be restrained by a seat safety belt approved under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208.” But not everyone observes this law either, which has led to many deaths in Georgia and elsewhere as a result of passengers being thrown from their vehicles, or even thrown from taxis, as is possibly the case in the death of John Nash, the “Beautiful Mind” mathematician and his wife, who were thrown to their death from their taxi on the New Jersey turnpike on Saturday afternoon.
Incidentally, in Georgia, there is no requirement that those who sit in the backseat of a vehicle be buckled up according to the governor’s highway safety website. And the Nashes were sitting in the back seat of the taxi they were riding in when it was involved in a motor vehicle accident, throwing them from the moving taxi on a major turnpike. So even though it is not the law to wear a seat belt in the back seat of your car while traveling on a highway in Georgia (but it should be), that does not mean you should not do it–even if there is not a fine to be considered.
Minors eight years of age and older must be secured in a moving vehicle with a safety seat belt; however, even if they are in the back seat. So parents, don’t allow your children to ride in the backseat without being buckled up this May holiday–or any other time. And not just to avoid a ticket, which happens to only be a mere $25.00 in Georgia. Make them buckle up to keep them from being thrown through a vehicle window during an accident impact. After all, it should not just be seat belt laws that motivate drivers to make sure their passengers are buckled up (especially passengers that are their family); it should be the thought that they want their loved ones safe that motivates drivers to insist you buckle up when riding with them.
For more safety driving laws for the Memorial Day holiday and the rest of the year, check out the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety website, which lists all the exceptions to the Georgia seat belt law, as well as the laws regarding DUI, impaired drivers, and even the Texting law.