New motor vehicle laws in effect

BATON ROUGE – Yesterday, Saturday, August 15, several new motor vehicle laws went into effect including one which requires all passengers, including those in the backseat, to wear seatbelts. However, according to State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson, people won’t start getting citations until October 1.

Until then, warnings will be issued to drivers as Edmonson said people need time to become aware of the new requirements. In the next few weeks, State Police will be stopping motorists and issuing warnings to educate them about the new safety laws. He also said that he expects parish and local law enforcement to follow the state’s lead.

“We think it’s fair to do so rather than at this time, August 15, to begin to issue citations when they have not been educated properly,” Louisiana Sheriff’s Association Assistant Director Michael Renatza said. “The end result is that we are very much interested in saving lives.”

The laws which go into effect Saturday for which the State Police will give an October 1 grace applies are:

- requiring seat belt use when riding in automobiles.

- mandating vehicle drivers to leave three feet of distance when they are passing or overtaking a bicyclist.

- requiring motorists on multilane roadways to travel in the right lane unless they are passing another vehicle unless the right lane is congested.

People who are first-time violators of the seat belt law are subject to $25 dollar fines; $50 for a second offense; and $50 plus court costs for subsequent infractions.

Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission said the seat belt law alone could save 22 lives in Louisiana every year.

The law that was passed to protect bicyclists is called the Colin Goodier Protection Act. Goodier, a third-year medical student, was killed as he rode his bicycle on River Road near St. Gabriel last year. He was struck by a pickup as he was training for his first triathlon.

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