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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 21, 2010

Truck-bed resolution rejected

By Nancy Cook Lauer
West Hawaii Today

HILO, Hawai'i Saying pickup trucks are some families' only mode of transportation, the Hawai'i County Council on Wednesday voted 7-2 to reject a resolution aimed at keeping passengers from riding in open truck beds.

The nonbinding resolution would have "strongly urged" the state Legislature to prohibit the practice and encouraged other county councils to sign on to the effort.

North Kona Councilman Kelly Greenwell, who sponsored the resolution, called it "absurd" that people in the cab of the pickup are required to wear seat belts, but that passengers can ride freely in the bed.

State law says no one younger than 13 may ride in the bed of an open truck, except during a life-threatening emergency or special occasion, such as a parade.

"There's absolutely no way we as a council, as policymakers, can avoid the issue of trying to adjust our behavior to try to prevent injuries and deaths," said Kohala Councilman Pete Hoffmann, the only other council member in favor of the measure.

Hāmākua Councilman Dominic Yagong said he doesn't let his children ride in the back of pickup trucks, but he understands why other families do. He said he personally favors the resolution, but he has to listen to his constituents.

"Some people, this is the only vehicle they do have," Yagong said.