Huge support for outlawing truck bed riders - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Huge support for outlawing truck bed riders

by Nick Delgado

Guam - There was overwhelming support for legislation that would outlaw everyone from riding in the back of a pickup truck today. While those who testified shared their personal experience why they feel the measure should become law, there were still those that have questions about the type of impacts the bill would have on the community.

Guam Fire Department Captain Rueben Olivas is all too familiar with the dangers of people riding in the back of pick up trucks. And today he testified in support of Bill 60, saying, "The bottom line is we have an opportunity now to reduced almost to zero the injuries that will be a result of an accident involving a pickup truck with passengers in the back of a cargo bed."

The legislation was introduced by freshman senator Mana Silva Taijeron. Bill 60 would ban anyone from riding in the back of a pickup.  Senator Taijeron introduced the measure after a teenager sustained life-threatening injuries after he was thrown from the back of a truck after it hit a concrete utility pole.

That teenager's godmother, Elaine Damian, appeared before lawmakers testifying in support of the bill's passage. "At a time with it being March, most 17-year-olds are getting letters of acceptances to colleges; he's getting referrals off island that's been approved. And while his parents should be planning travel arraignments for him to go off to college, they are making arrangements for the doctors off-island to do medical care because the doctors here can only do so much," she proclaimed.

Aside from Damian, representatives from the Department of Public Works and the Guam Police Department are in support of the bill's passage. Senator Tom Ada meanwhile suggested the possibility of exempting trucks that have camper shells to allow passengers to ride in the bed.

Chief Prosecutor Phil Tydingco, however, responded that still poses a safety hazard, noting, "People who ride in the cargo area are taking a substantial risk, most deaths and injuries attributed to pickup truck are as a result of passengers being thrown out of a pick up truck cargo area during a rollover." He added, "Truck camper shells do not necessarily prevent ejections from pick up truck cargo areas and passengers may be endangered by the shell or harmed by the fumes that collect in the shell from a leak in the rear exhaust system."

Senator Taijeron says while the measure is widely unpopular she encourages more in the community to provide testimony defending it's about safety, not convenience.

While those in favor say that the back of pick up truck should be restricted to cargo, there were a couple that were against the legislation saying that there should be limited restrictions, such as those riding in the back of a pickup truck should be above of age of 18. And if they are under the age of 18 they should be accompanied by an adult and only in the event of an emergency. Senator Adolpho Palacios, public safety oversight chair meanwhile admits the measure is not ready to make it onto session floor.

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