State troopers notice drivers following new laws

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LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. -- Several new driving laws have gone into effect the past couple of months and state troopers believe residents have been following them.

The newest seat belt law says both front seat and backseat passengers need to be wearing their safety belts. The law is a secondary offense. That means a driver won't be pulled over for passengers not wearing their seat belts, but if they are pulled over for another reason members of law enforcement can issue a seat belt citation.

Senior Trooper Chuck Daniel with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency asks: "Why would you neglect your own safety and not be restrained inside a vehicle regardless if you're the driver or the backseat passenger?"

Over the last decade, Daniel says 52-58% of people in fatality crashes were not wearing seat belts. He adds that percentage represents about 5,000 fatalities over the past ten years on Alabama highways.

"You know, in my career of 11 years... vastly more numbers of people being killed without their seat belt on... and that law, that's a good law," says Daniel. "If people will take it seriously, we'll see less serious injuries and less fatalities."

The other law is known as the anti-road rage law. Riding too long in the left lane without passing drivers in the right lane has always been considered "impeding traffic" by law enforcement. This new law sets specific limits on left lane riding.

The anti-road rage law is considered a primary offense. Meaning a driver can be pulled over simply for being caught riding in the left lane longer than 1.5 miles.

Daniel says people have been following the law. "I see a change. I see more people driving to the right of the left lane," says Daniel.

But even with new laws, state troopers say to keep this sobering advice in mind:

"When you drive that automobile on the highway, that is the most dangerous thing you'll do. You need to treat that with the upmost care."

The "anti-road rage law" and "back-seat seat belt law" went into effect September 1, but had a 60-day trial period. Enforcement officially began on November 1, 2019.

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