Quinn signs new seat belt law

June 27, 2011

(WBEZ/Jennifer Brandel)
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn was joined by highway law enforcement and lawmakers as he announced the new legislation.
(WBEZ/Jennifer Brandel)
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White said he wants to make Illinois roads the safest in the country.
(WBEZ/Jennifer Brandel)
Governor Quinn was joined by the family of the late Mark Beaubien, one of the bill's sponsors.

Every car passenger in Illinois will soon have to buckle up. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill today that requires it.  Before this seemingly common sense law, backseat passengers 18 years or older weren't required to wear a seatbelt.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White explained why backseat passengers need to be restrained.

He said, "If by chance they are not buckled up, then of course they could become a human missile for those in the front of the vehicle." 

But the law still exempts riders in buses, emergency vehicles and those in the backseat of taxis. Illinois Senate President John Cullerton sponsored the bill with the late GOP Rep. Mark Beaubien.

Regarding the taxi exemption, Cullerton said, "A lot of times in taxi cabs, the seatbelts are not maintained properly and it's hard to find them. I know I have trouble myself digging down to try to find them sometimes." Cullerton said he hopes taxis will be added to the bill sometime later on.

The new law will take effect January 1, 2012.

Meanwhile just before the seatbelt press conference, a taxi cab crashed into a downtown Chicago building - killing a pedestrian and seriously injuring the driver and backseat passenger.