Should backseat passengers have to buckle up?

May 6, 2011 (BARRINGTON, Ill.)

A bill tightening the state's seatbelt law has passed in the Illinois House and now goes to the Senate.

Larry Doren of Crystal Lake was driving co-workers home when a black SUV lost control and slammed into his Honda CRV. He died after the 2006 accident.

"The first two or three years were unbearable. I'm doing better now," said Larry's wife Paula Doren.

Doren says her husband's death, in part, was caused by the trauma he sustained when the passenger in the backseat struck him.

"The passenger in the backseat was thrown forward into the back of the front seat of the car, pushing the driver and the front seat passenger forward," Doren said.

Doren talked to State Rep. Michael Tryon, R-Crystal Lake, who co-sponsored the bill to tighten the state's seatbelt law, requiring everyone in the backseat, including adults, to buckle up. Currently, only people only 19 and younger are required to do so.

"She gave to me a very compelling argument for why there needed to be a safety belt requirement for backseat passengers," Tryon said.

"We're going to save lives and serious injuries, which in effect saves taxpayers a lot of money," said State Rep. Mark Beaubien, Assistant Minority Leader.

Under the bill, you wouldn't have to buckle up in the backseat of a taxi cab, limo or emergency vehicles.

The state representatives feel confident because Senate President John Cullerton is sponsoring the bill, too. His office released a statement, saying: "The Senate President has long advocated for traffic safety initiatives that protect motorists and their passengers and save lives. This legislation is something he'll certainly consider."

Critics argue that there is not enough evidence about traffic deaths when it comes to wearing seatbelts in the backseat, and that another law is not necessary. Drivers have mixed viewpoints.

"I think buckling up is the best way," said Ivy O'Donnell, who supports the bill.

"It should be up to them to decide whether they want a seatbelt or not," said Steve Florek, who opposes the bill.

The Senate is expected to take up the issue before the spring session ends this month.

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