Lawmaker wants to expand FL’s seat belt law, so all passengers buckle up

Man buckling seat belt. Wikimedia Commons

Wearing a seat belt in a vehicle is considered the norm in Florida, but there’s an exception that even some drivers and passengers may not know about:

Adults in the back seat can go without a seat belt.

Now, State Rep. Emily Slosberg, a Democrat representing part of Palm Beach, has filed legislation to ensure that the driver and all passengers buckle up, starting July 1, 2020.

Right now, the law requires drivers, front seat passengers, and passengers under 18 to wear a seat belt — but adult passengers who sit in the back seat do not, according to a news release about the legislation (HB 179).

It’s a dangerous exception, according to Slosberg.

“I lost my twin sister in a horrific car crash when we were teenagers.  Her seat belt was tragically unbuckled when it happened,” Slosberg said in a statement.

“Since then, I have dedicated my career to traffic safety advocacy and have fought to make our roads safer with common-sense legislation like this seat belt bill.  We could save countless lives every year by requiring everyone to wear a seat belt – including those in the back seat.”

Data in the news release show that 14,377 passenger vehicle fatalities occurred in Florida between 2008 and 2017, and nearly half of those killed  were not wearing a seat belt.

The House and Senate would have to pass the legislation, and Gov. Ron DeSantis would have to approve it for the measure to become law.

Diane Rado
Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.

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