MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Alabama lawmakers won’t bar teens from riding in the back of pickup trucks after most acknowledged they’ve ridden back there too.
The Alabama House of Representatives on Thursday refused to debate a bill that would prohibit kids under 19 from riding in the back of pickup trucks on a state or federal highway. Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Albertville, brought the bill following a fatal 2013 accident that killed four young people and injured five others when a pickup truck flipped in north Alabama.
“It makes perfect sense to me that children should not be allowed to ride in the back of a pickup truck on a heavily traveled road,” Rich said.
Rich said the bill would only affect teens age 16-18. Children 15 are younger are covered by seatbelt and child restraint laws.
House members rejected the bill last year as well. During the debate, Rich rattled off a list of changes, including an exemption for agriculture and for country roads. He said that should take care of the various concerns legislators raised last year about hay rides, family farms and transporting marching band instruments.
Legislators remained unpersuaded.
Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, asked for a show of hands if they’ve ridden in the back of a truck. Almost all House members raised their hands.
“I wanted us to be aware of what we are about to do,” Collins said.
Rich asked if lawmakers thought it was safe for teens to ride in the cargo area of trucks driving down a highway. Collins said it wouldn’t be her choice but it was a parental decision.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicates that 30 states have restrictions on riding in cargo areas.
A procedural vote to bring the legislation up for debate failed 33-50.
“Well, I guess that’s that,” Rich said after House members refused to debate the bill.
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