Understanding Georgia's Seat Belt Laws

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “America recently achieved an important milestone for road safety: an all-time record seat belt use rate of 90 percent. That’s great news. As recently as 2004, seat belt usage was roughly 10 percent lower. But it still means that more than 27 million Americans aren’t taking the simple, lifesaving step of buckling up.”

The NHTSA says it won’t rest until 100 percent of Americans are using their seat belts. So, the government agency is reminding drivers and passengers that to prevent needless deaths on roadways, it’s going to depend on individual action. “Put yourself and your family’s safety first – by always buckling up,” is the NHTSA’s message.

Seat belt facts and stats from the NHTSA:

  • Between 1960 and 2012, seat belts saved 329,715 lives.
  • In 2016, more than 260 children between the ages of 8 and 12-years-old were killed in crashes – nearly half of whom were not wearing a seat belt.
  • Wearing a seat belt greatly increases one’s chances of surviving a crash.
  • In 2016 alone, nearly 15,000 lives were saved due to seat belts.
  • Air bags are not as effective if the person is not wearing a seat belt.

Buckle Up, It’s the Law

The Georgia law on seat belt usage can be found under O.C.G.A. Section 40-8-76.1. Sec. 40-8-76.1(B) reads: “Each occupant of the front seat of a passenger vehicle shall, while such passenger vehicle is being operated on a public road, street, or highway of this state, be restrained by a seat safety belt approved under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208.” A violation of this section is a traffic violation, punishable by a fine not to exceed $15.00.

This law does not apply to:

  • A driver who is operating a vehicle in reverse.
  • Passenger vehicles manufactured before 1965.
  • Passenger vehicles that are not required to have seat belts under federal law.
  • A passenger vehicle that is in the process of performing an emergency service.

Any minor who is eight-years or older and is riding as a passenger in a vehicle must where a seat belt while the vehicle is on a public road, highway, or street in Georgia. If a child passenger age eight or older is not wearing a seat belt, the driver is guilty of failing to secure a seat belt on the minor, and can be fined up to $25.00.