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Vehicles travel west on North Street as pedestrians cross North Street downtown.

The failure of car and truck drivers and passengers to wear seat belts could be entered into evidence when damages are assessed under legislation that breezed through the Louisiana House on Monday.

The vote was 85-8.

The measure, House Bill 51, next faces action in the state Senate.

"We are only allowing the presentation of the facts," said Rep. Mike Huval, R-Breaux Bridge and sponsor of the proposal.

Seat belt usage has been required in Louisiana since 1986.

Huval said the rate of usage in the state is 80 percent compared to 90 percent nationally.

Using seat belts, he said, reduces serious injuries by 50 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Huval also said the failure to use seat belts costs employers $5 billion per year, or $48,000 per employee.

Under current law, whether car and truck occupants were wearing seat belts cannot be used when deciding comparative negligence.

The proposed law would not apply to those less than 16 years old.

The bill originally said total damages awarded to those injured would be trimmed by 25 percent for failure to wear a seat belt.

Huval removed that provision during House discussion of the legislation.

The legislation marked one of the first times the House has discussed substantive legislation.

The Legislature is in the third week of a nine-week session.


Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell.