All Hawaii Motor Vehicle Passengers Must Now Wear Seatbelts (Unless You’re In A Truck Bed)

Although state Senator Clayton Hee has been busy blocking ethics law reform this session and trying to deny that online journalism actually exists, there is one bill he can boast about getting past the governor’s desk. Senate Bill (SB) 4, also known by the catchy title “Click it or Ticket Bill,” was first introduced by Hee and signed into law by Governor Neil Abercrombie on May 20.

The law requires that all front and back seat passengers be restrained by a seat belt or child passenger seat while the motor vehicle is being operated on any public highway. Before this law, passengers over the age of 17 could ride unrestrained in a car backseat.

“The data regarding seat belt use is irrefutable,” said Hee, who is also Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor, in a May 21 news release. “Seventy-five percent of back seat passengers suffer serious injury of death when they are not properly buckled up. People’s lives will be saved by this new law and, at the end of the day, that is really what counts!”

The release adds, “According to the National Highway Safety Administration, seat belt restraints increases the safety of all motor vehicle occupants by as much as forty-five percent.”

This is good news, though we must also acknowledge a bit of irony. See, Hawaii state law still allows seated passengers over the age of 12 to ride in the beds of pickup trucks, so long as the tailgate is closed. Even more, SB 692, which would have restricted the use of truck beds as seating (cause, you know, they don’t have seatbelts) didn’t make it past the first four days of the 2013 session.