Thursday, lawmakers heard a bill that would effect anyone who drives or rides as a passenger in a vehicle.
Pat Goldhahn lost his daughter Lauren in an accident last year in which she was not wearing a seat belt. Thursday, he took his fight to save others to the state capitol. Pat says that he and his wife had to walk into a hospital room and see what no parents want to see.
“We walked in and you can imagine what we saw," he said. "All because of the choice Lauren made not to wear her seat belt that night.”
Goldhahn said that his daughter was a rule follower- and this law could have saved her life.
Current law requires adults to wear a seat belts and children to be in a car seat. But an officer can only issue you a citation if they have already pulled you over for something else, like speeding or running a stop sign. However, the bill read would allow an officer to pull a driver over and issue a citation solely for not wearing a seat belt.
Rebecca Sturdevant also lost her child to a car accident
“If each one of you had to go through what Lauren's family and my family has gone through you would vote for this bill," said Strurdevant. "So I challenge you to look beyond politics and consider your hearts.”
Director of the Department of Transportation Mike Tooley also testified as a proponent of the bill. He said in 2015, of the 224 traffic deaths in Montana, 118 of them involved a driver that was not wearing a seat belt.
But opponents of the bill say it takes away citizens’ rights to make their own choices.
“This isn’t about statistics. This is about America,” said bill opponent Mark French.
“I am a friend of liberty," said bill opponent Pascal Redfern. "I have 10 children. I teach my children to be responsible drivers. But I want them the choice. I don’t want the state mandating to them that they’ve got to wear a seat belt.”
“This is absurd. All because we want to save drivers and we want to prevent deaths? You cannot relieve all risk in life, if god wants to take you he will.”
On Friday, the senate judiciary committee killed this bill. Bill sponsor Dick Barrett wrote in part in a Facebook status, "[Republicans] did not waste any time, it was just heard yesterday. So be it. I just hope they are also willing to claim credit for Montana having one of the highest traffic fatality rates in the country."