Quinn signs Beaubien seat-belt bill
The late Rep. Mark Beaubien's widow and family were on hand in Chicago Monday as Gov. Pat Quinn signed the Barrington Hills lawmaker's final piece of legislation -- a law requiring Illinoisans to buckle up in the back seat.
Dee Beaubien said the law was "extremely important" to her husband, who considered traffic safety legislation part of his legacy.
"This means a great deal to us and all of our family," she said.
Now, starting the first of the year, people can get ticketed for failing to wear a seat belt in the back seat.
Current law says that people age 19 and over can go without their seat belts in the back. Illinois becomes the 26th state to require everyone to buckle up in the back seat.
Senate President John Cullerton, who sponsored Illinois' original seat belt law, said the change could save as many as 25 lives a year and the new rules are an example of legislation that can affect people directly.
"This is the most important thing we can do," Cullerton said.
Others disagree, though, saying requiring people to wear seat belts is an intrusion of government.
Hinsdale Republican Sen. Kirk Dillard, for example, has said that he strongly supports the use of seat belts but voted against the plan, saying it shouldn't be the government's call.
Still, suburban drivers and passengers are among the state's most diligent seat belt users. A recent study found that drivers and front-seat passengers in the counties of DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will had a 94.2 percent seat belt usage rate.
At the ceremony where the legislation was signed, Dee Beaubien thanked Rep. Mike Tryon, a Crystal Lake Republican, for presenting the proposal on the House floor in May when her husband was ill and unable to do it himself. Mark Beaubien died earlier this month of a heart attack.