HB 197 recognizes SUVs as a new category of motor vehicle

[Baton Rouge] –The Louisiana House Committee on Transportation has introduced a bill that requires all occupants of a motor vehicle to wear a seatbelt. Specifically, HB 197 adds the issue of Sports Utility Vehicles, or “SUVs” into the law.

The bill was filed by Rep. Henry Burns, and presented to the committee on March 21.

According to Rep. Burns, the idea was first brought to his attention on a visit with a state trooper who is set to retire soon. The trooper told Burns that because SUVs are a new and blossoming type of vehicle, and they are not written specifically into the law, people were using that to get out of traffic and accident citations.

He pointed out to Burns that the people who are not restrained, often those in the back seat and often children, are the most likely to be injured.

Few questions arose in the matter of the bill, and it was widely accepted by the committee.

The law currently in place states that “Each driver of a passenger car, van or truck, having a gross weight of 10,000 pounds or less, commonly referred to as a pickup truck, in this state shall have a safety belt properly fastened around his or her body at all times when the vehicle is in forward motion.”

Rep. Burns seeks to add SUVs into this category of motor vehicles, and also adds that, “Each driver of a passenger car, van, sports utility vehicle or truck with a gross weight of 10,000 pounds or less, commonly referred to as a pickup truck, shall not transport more persons than there are safety belts available in the vehicle.”

According to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, there is an 85% fatality rate for those unrestrained passengers in the back seat, should a collision occur. Rep. Burns said that these people become, “like missiles.”

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