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Alabama expected to become 29th state to require backseat seat belts

Brandon Moseley

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Thursday, the Alabama House of Representatives Thursday passed a bill that will require all occupants of a vehicle to wear a seat belt, even those in the back seat.

Senate Bill 254 was sponsored by Sen. David Burkette (D-Montgomery).

It was carried in the House by State Representative Chris Sells (R-Greenville) who also carried the House version.

The bill was named after Roderic Deshaun Scott. Scott was a Robert E. Lee High School basketball star from Montgomery who died after a car crash on I-65 in 2016. Scott was thrown from the vehicle across the interstate in the crash.

“National data show us that seat belt use and compliance with seat belt laws may be the most effective safety measure we can take,” Sells said in a statement. “Now Alabama’s seat belt law will truly reflect the importance of seat belts in highway safety.”

“It is my hope that voluntary compliance with this new law will save thousands of lives in the years to come,” Sen. Burkette said. “I am saddened that it took such a tragedy to serve as the impetus for passing this law, but honoring Roderic Scott is an appropriate way to preserve the memory of this special young man.”

State Representative Kirk Hatcher (D-Montgomery) said, “The Roderic Deshaun Scott Seat Belt Safety Act puts a human face on an issue that’s long overdue to be addressed. This is an important step in strengthening the safety culture in Alabama by requiring seat belt use by back seat passengers.”

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“The Alabama Legislature is to be commended for amending Alabama’s seat belt law to include rear seat passengers,” said Tony Harris, Government Relations Manager at the Alabama Department of Transportation. “Sixty percent of the people dying on Alabama’s roadways are not wearing a seat belt, especially those riding in rear seats. Many crashes are survivable with the use of a seat belt.”

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Alabama becomes the 29th state to require seat belt use by rear seat vehicle occupants.

Alabama has had a seat belt law since 2000 requiring the use of seat belts by front seat vehicle occupants. The law had not addressed seat belt use in rear seats by occupants over the age of 15. Children are already required to be buckled up or in an age-appropriate car seat.

Rear seat passengers in a vehicle are three times more likely to die in a crash if they are not wearing a seat belt, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Alabama Department of Transportation’s mission is to provide a safe, efficient, environmentally and economically sound transportation network across Alabama.

Drive Safe Alabama is ALDOT’s traffic safety marketing campaign. The goal of Drive Safe Alabama is to strengthen Alabama’s highway safety culture. By providing safe driving information through online resources and educational opportunities, ALDOT aims to reduce crash-related injuries and fatalities on Alabama’s roadways.

To learn more visit their website, click here.

SB254 passed the House 76 to 17, and now goes to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey for her consideration.

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