Buckle Up in the Back: New road laws go into effect July 1st

Buckle Up in the Back: New road laws go into effect July 1st
Source: WDAM

MISSISSIPPI (WDAM) - Drivers in Mississippi need to be aware of three new road laws that go into effect July 1st or they may be forced to pay up.

No matter where you sit in a car in Mississippi, starting Saturday, all passengers have to wear a seat belt.  Governor Phil Bryant signed Senate Bill 2724 in April and it requires everyone in a vehicle to be buckled up.  Mississippi already has a law requiring seat belts for front-seat adult passengers and for children anywhere in a vehicle.

"As the operator of the vehicle, it is that person's responsibility to make sure everyone is buckled up," Barfield said.

Under the new law, a driver could be fined $25 for every unbelted passenger.  The violation will not be listed on the person's driving record.

"Anytime that you talk about somebody having to pay a fine, yea that's going to make a difference," said Barfield.  "But, you are still going to have people who say it's my choice and I'm not going to wear it. Again, it's the law and we have to enforce the law."

Barfield said seat belts can be the different between life and death.  He experienced that personally Monday night when he responded to a fatal wreck in Greene County.   Barfield said a family friend lost her life when her truck flipped on Highway 63.  She was not wearing a seat belt.

"When you pull up to a crash and it's fatal, there's no words to describe what you have to do during the course of the investigation," said Barfield.  "It was somebody that I knew and something as simple as a seat belt, it takes two seconds to reach, pull it and click it in."

Buses, farm, mail and utility vehicles are exempt from the law.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, Mississippi is the 29th state to require seat belts for back seat passengers.

"There's a large number of people that do abide by that particular law and they buckle up when they get in a vehicle," said Barfield.  "And then you have some that feel like they don't have to wear it or don't want to wear it, and it is a law."

Mississippi Highway Patrol is also urging anyone in a vehicle to be "In the Click" this weekend.

Another law will fine drivers who spend too much time in the left lane. Drivers who travel in the left lane must be either passing another vehicle or making a left turn.  If not, drivers may face a $25 fine.

Rep. Charles Busby of Pascagoula introduced the amendment to Mississippi Code of 1972 in January and added a fine of $5 to $50.  The rule currently applies to interstate traffic, not state multi-lane roads.

The third law going into effect on July 1st prohibits anyone from riding in the back of a pick-up truck.

Barfield said these laws will hopefully make the roads safer and help MHP with the goal of zero fatalities.