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Florida tightens safety belt laws

Safety belt laws in Florida were tightened up today in a move that advocates say will save lives and millions of dollars in health care and auto insurance costs.

Governor Charlie Crist signed the Dori Slosberg and Katie Marchetti Safety Belt Law, which mandates seatbelt wearing in the Sunshine State.

The law deletes a previous exemption for drivers of pick-up trucks. People with certain medical conditions may exempt themselves on the instruction of a physician.

Crist expressed confidence the new powers would save lives and reduce the number of serious auto injuries in Florida.

The legislation, which is named for teenagers Dori Slosberg and Katie Marchetti who lost their lives in car crashes while not buckled up, will take effect June 30.

Passage of the new powers was strongly supported by AAA Auto Club South. The group warned that Florida risked losing its entitlement to $35.5 million from the federal government in safety belt performance grants if the primary law was not enacted in time.

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