A new state law aimed at reducing injuries and deaths in motor vehicle crashes goes into effect Sept. 1.
Beginning on that date, passengers riding in the backseats of vehicles will be required to wear seat belts just like their front-seat companions.
Alabama State Trooper Chuck Daniel said the law requires that each passenger must be restrained.
“It will be a secondary violation for any occupants not in the front seat area,” Daniel said. “What that means is the driver must be stopped for a violation first before you can enforce the law. If people will comply, it should reduce injuries in crashes.”
The safety aspect of all passengers being constrained is also welcomed by Sgt. Joey Duncan, a traffic specialist with the Cullman Police Department.
“I agree with Trooper Daniel. The safety issue is the key. I’ve worked hundreds of wrecks and when you see someone unbuckle the seat belt and get out of a vehicle after a bad crash, you know it works,” Duncan said.
Alabama State Troopers have been campaigning across the state to encourage more motorists to use seat belts, lower speed and simply obey traffic laws.
Daniel said numerous deaths have been documented from drivers and passengers who were ejected from vehicles because they were not wearing seat belts at the time of the crashes.
“We continue to see speed as major factor in wrecks, but the deaths and injuries are also related to not wearing seat belts,” Daniel said.
Cullman County has been one of the top areas of the state for crashes and fatalities in recent years.
Duncan said the city police force is focusing many of its resources on traffic issues.
“We’ve reported that following too closely and running red lights are two of the main causes of crashes,” Duncan said. “We’re working on those areas and you can see it in various areas of the city. I’m encouraged by the new law. I think that’s going to save a lot of lives and prevent more injuries. Even in a low-speed crash, not wearing a seat belt can cause serious injuries.”
David Palmer may be contacted at 256-734-2131, ext. 116.