“Lauryn’s Law”, a bill that would establish a primary seatbelt law in Montana, was struck down by a 7-4 vote in committee a few weeks ago during legislation in Helena. The law stems from the death of a 15-year-old Fairfield girl who died when the truck she was riding in rolled. Her name was Lauryn Goldhahn and the accident occurred near Fairfield last August.
Her father, Pat Goldhahn, has been travelling around Montana, giving presentations to schools and organizations to promote seatbelts. After his daughter passed away, a campaign called, “Buckle Up Blue Ribbon Campaign”, was started in Lauryn’s honor. More than 60,000 blue ribbons have been distributed since the campaigns inception last September across the United States and Canada. The ribbons are to be tied to steering wheels to remind drivers to buckle up.
Superior high school senior, Taryn Ververis, travelled to Helena along with his mother Stacey, and Mineral Community Hospital CEO, Ron Gleason, to give testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, in support of the bill.
Taryn said that his seatbelt saved his life when the vehicle he was in rolled twice, “I would be dead if it wasn’t for my seatbelt.”
Montana law currently allows officers to issue citations for not wearing seatbelts only if the driver has been pulled over for a different traffic violation. This bill would allow officers to pull over and ticket people who are not wearing their seatbelt.
Pat Goldhahn testified that a stricter seat belt law may have helped save his daughter because she was very diligent about following laws and rules.
Ververis said there was opposition to the law because some felt it infringes on their rights and they should have the choice as to whether to wear it or not. However, proponents argued that seat belts were not worn in over half of Montana’s 224 fatal crashes last year. This bill would save lives and money, claiming that about $36 million is spend annually in the state by various government programs on hospital costs that could be avoided if more people wore them.
This isn’t the first time the legislature has rejected a primary seat belt law. It has been brought before committee several times in the past, each time being rejected because it infringes on people’s rights.