The Seat Belt Story

Seat belts have been around for a long time: longer than airbags, longer than automatic transmissions, and longer than the assembly line! In fact, Volvo, a company built around passenger safety, invented and patented the first seat belt in 1889. Later, in 1959, Nils Bohlin, also a Volvo engineer, designed the standard 3-point seat belt that all vehicles use today. Realizing the enormous potential for saving lives, Volvo actually opened the patent to allow all manufacturers to use their design, and in doing so, they have saved over a million lives!

Despite its long and glorious history, the seat belt doesn’t see as much use as it should, and many states are beginning to tighten their seat belt policy enforcement in an effort to lower traffic accident fatalities. Georgia currently ranks sixth in number of fatalities for unbuckled backseat passengers and is among the states stepping up their seat belt game.

What does the law require?

Front seat:

Georgia law currently requires the front seat occupants of any passenger vehicle (defined by Georgia law as: “every motor vehicle, including, but not limited to, pickup trucks, vans, and sport utility vehicles, designed to carry ten passengers or fewer and used for the transportation of persons”) to wear a seat belt.

Back seat:

  • Children ages 0-8 years old (or under 40 pounds) are required to be in an age/weight appropriate restraint.
  • Minors 8-17 years old are required to be buckled at all times.
  • Adults in the back seat are not required to wear a seat belt. (Although some are fighting for GA to adopt new policies requiring all passengers to be buckled at all times.)

Consequences

Although the fine for a first-time seat belt violation is only $15 or $25 for transporting an unbuckled minor, the reality is that wearing a seat belt can often be a matter of life and death in the event of an accident. Georgia drivers, don’t take chances with the law or with life! Buckle up!