PHOENIX ‑‑ The sight of youngsters bouncing around in ‑‑ and sometimes out of ‑‑ the back of pickup trucks may not be around for long.
On a voice vote Wednesday, the Senate gave preliminary approval to legislation which would make it illegal for motorists to have anyone younger than 18 in the open bed of a pickup truck unless they are somehow belted in.
The future of the HB 2089, however remains in doubt. Similar legislation has been proposed and defeated numerous times in the past.
But this version, crafted by Rep. Matt Heinz, D‑Tucson, may have a better chance than its predecessors. That's because it includes provisions designed to placate foes.
The legislation is designed to plug what some contend is a loophole in state law.
It is illegal to have an "unsecured load'' in the back of a truck. The premise is that if a refrigerator, a deer carcass or a box of marbles falls onto the road it creates a hazard for other motorists.
That law, however, does not apply to humans.
Prior efforts have faltered amid complaints that parents and adults are in a far better position to judge the safety of their passengers. But Rep. Doris Goodale, R‑Kingman, said it's more than individual rights are involved.
She said in the last decade three constituents in the Kingman area alone district died in these kinds of mishaps. In one case, the teen was in the intensive‑care unit of a hospital for more than a year, amassing bills of close to $2 million which were picked up by the state.
To just get the bill to the House floor, Heinz had to agree to an exception to allow unrestrained children in open pickup trucks if they are wearing approved motorcycle‑style helmets. And the legislation also says a police officer cannot stop a motorists solely because there are kids in the truck unless they observe some other violation.