In a move he hopes will lead to fewer deaths in traffic collisions, Governor Pat Quinn Monday signed a law broadening the state's existing seat belt laws to require drivers and passengers of all ages -- not just the front-seat passenger -- to buckle up.
The measure was narrowly approved last month by the state legislature and makes Illinois the 26th state to approve such a requirement, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The law carves out exceptions for taxi cabs and emergency vehicles, such as ambulances and police cars, and would also not impact buses. Police will be allowed to stop vehicles housing any unbuckled passengers and those found to be in violation of the law will be fined no more than $25.
Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), who also authored the state's first seat belt law in the 1980s, was the measure's principal sponsor. The bill also had the support of the late Rep. Mark Beaubien (R-Barrington Hills), whose family was on hand at the bill's signing at Quinn's Chicago office, the Chicago Tribune reported.
State police director Hiram Grau applauded the law's signage and described the measure as "common sense legislation that we are very much in support of."
"We're going to work very closely with other local and state agencies to make sure these laws are enforced," Grau added, according to WJBD Radio.
Others opposed the law as an example of government overreach. Rep. Daniel Beiser (D-Alton) told the Daily Chronicle he did not support the measure as he was "not in favor of dictating what the public should do. It's a choice."
The law; as well as a similar piece of legislation making it illegal for passengers to ride in trailers, wagons and other similar vehicles being towed on highways; will officially go into effect on January 1, 2012.