The Battle Over Buckling Up

By Ben Wolf
Friday, February 2, 2007

If Georgia State Senator Don Thomas gets his way, pickup truck drivers are going to have to buckle up.

"I drive a pickup and I don't ever wear my seat belt. I feel no need for it, said Valdosta resident Matthew Demaranville.

Many across the state share Demaranville's stance. Senator Thomas' proposed legislation, however, would make pickup drivers abide by the same law as those who currently drive cars and SUVs.

"If you're going 70, 80 miles an hour down 75, you can get hurt just as easily in a pickup truck as you can in a car," said pickup driver Skipper Rowan.

Senator Thomas says in 2005, more than 230 people were killed in pickup truck crashes in Georgia, something experts say could have been avoided that year.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates more than 5,000 people would have survived fatal traffic accidents if they would have buckled up.

For south Georgia residents, these numbers hit close to home.

"Right up from the house. There's always been trucks people have been ejected from," said pickup driver David Roberts.

But there will still be those resisting the restraint belt.

"If I ever got in an accident in my truck I just feel like, I wouldn't get badly injured," said Demaranville.

It’s an opinion that could lead to tickets if this bill is passed. Many opposing the bill say farmers shouldn't have to wear a seat belt while driving their pickup truck in rural areas.