Did you know a new traffic law went into effect in Alabama on Sunday, September 1st?
The new law, also known as Act 2019-386 or SB 254, requires all occupants of a motor vehicle to use seat belts (Alabama Law Enforcement Agency).
You read that right. Up until now, back seat passengers did not have to wear seatbelts. Every year, thousands of children and adults are tragically killed or seriously injured in car crashes. According to a study in 2017, every 32 seconds in 2017, one child under the age of 13 in a passenger vehicle was involved in a crash (United States Department of Transportation). Buckling up is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself and other passengers in a crash. Seatbelts keep an individual safe and secure, plus they prevent someone from being completely ejected from a vehicle (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).
So what can you do to keep yourself and others safe while operating a vehicle?
- Make sure that you always fasten your seatbelt and make certain that every passenger follows the same practice.
- For younger passengers, confirm that car seats and booster seats are installed and operating correctly. States now require children to ride in appropriate car seats or booster seats until as old as age 9.
Fortunately, Child Passenger Safety Week is coming up September 15-21, and it is a time that you can spread awareness on the significance of seatbelt safety. This week highlights the importance of ensuring that all children are properly secured in a car seat or seatbelt. During this week, take the time to have your car seats and seatbelts inspected by a Child Passenger Safety Technician. Many people don’t know this, but local police departments offer free car seat safety checks. The Alabama Department of Public Health Injury Prevention Branch also conducts car seat clinics the third Wednesday of each month in Montgomery.
As a driver, make it a habit always to buckle up and see that your passengers do the same. A seat belt is crucial to surviving a crash.