Back Seat Belt Laws by State
Twenty states, including Alaska, Delaware, and Indiana, use what`s called the primary app. This means that a police officer can pass you if they observe the driver or passenger without a seat belt. In a 10-year analysis of belt use data among fatally injured occupants, nighttime use was consistently about 18 percentage points lower than during the day (Tison et al., 2010). Night drivers without seat belts have previously committed more traffic violations and criminal arrests than night drivers and day drivers (with or without a seat belt) (Thomas et al., 2010). All other states have rear seat belt laws, but each state enforces them differently. New Hampshire has not enacted a primary or secondary adult seat belt law, although the state has a primary seat belt law that covers drivers and passengers under the age of 18. In a side impact on the driver`s side of a car, tests showed that a driver in the rear seat not buckled on the driver`s side would likely suffer a serious or fatal injury, but that the attached driver had a lower risk of the same type of injury. Years after the sinking, only two states – Minnesota and Texas – have laws that require all passengers to buckle up in the back seat, including those over the age of 18. Many other states have laws for drivers under the age of 18, but these don`t apply to adults driving in the back seat of a car. Currently, federal safety standards do not require seat belt recalls in the back seat. However, in 2012, Congress asked NHTSA to start developing rules to require it. So why don`t the passengers in the back seats buckle up? Reason #1: Forgetfulness.
According to 63 percent of respondents to the LeaseTrader.com survey, thirteen percent thought it was unnecessary and 9 percent felt safe without sticking together in the back seat. Secondary enforcement originally arose because legislators in some states were reluctant to enact primary laws because they feared that the police would use the law to harass minorities (Farmer and Williams, 2005). However, several studies have found that the transition from secondary to primary application has resulted in proportionately equal or lower contraventions for minorities (Preusser et al., 2005; Solomon et al., 2000; Solomon et al., 2001). Seat belts saved an estimated 14,955 lives in 2017. For the driver and front passenger, the use of a lap belt and shoulder belt reduces the risk of fatal injuries in an SUV, van or pickup truck and in a car by 60%. Footnote 1 This State assesses the points for violations. ↩ Just because it`s legal for rear passengers not to wear seat belts in many states doesn`t mean it`s safe. According to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, only 29% of fatally injured rear passengers over the age of 13 wore seat belts. The vast majority were not.
For the driver and front passenger, the use of a lap belt and shoulder belt reduces the risk of fatal injuries by 60% in an SUV, van or pickup truck and by 45% in a car. Occupants of a vehicle increase the risk of injury or death to other occupants of the vehicle by 40%. In the U.S. market, Volvo was the first manufacturer to warn the driver if passengers in the back seat did not buckle up. Some other manufacturers have equipped some of their vehicle models with recall systems that detect the use of seat belts for rear passengers, but most vehicles sold in the United States are not equipped with this feature. Some manufacturers have equipped the rear seats with inflatable belts. These straps aim to reduce head, neck and chest injuries by deploying on the upper body and shoulders of the occupant during an impact, so that the impact forces are distributed over an area of the body 5 times larger than traditional seat belts. When the vehicle`s sensors detect a serious collision, the seat belt airbag fills with cold compressed gas and expands sideways on the occupant`s body. The inflatable belt works like a conventional seat belt for everyday use. Seat belts have become more sophisticated in recent decades. The belts on the front seat are designed to work in coordination with the airbags in order to keep a person in the right position and cope with the forces on the body.
The built-in devices, called collision tensioners, cause the belt to tighten immediately around the occupants in the event of an accident. To reduce the risk of chest injuries, belts also have force limiters that allow certain straps to unwind before the belt forces become too high. Before starting a trip, make sure all passengers wear their seat belts. Any passenger without a seat belt, even in the back seat, increases the likelihood that each occupant will suffer life-threatening injuries. If that`s not enough, think about how much less gas money you`ll have if you get crushed. Unsealed occupants can endanger other people in the vehicle. In a frontal accident, the driver and front passenger have an increased risk of injury from unlooped rear passengers, and in the event of a side impact, passengers sitting next to unlooped passengers have an increased risk of injury. A national phone survey found that 70 percent of part-time belt users and 44 percent of non-users said they would be more likely to buckle up with ignition latches. However, only 30% of part-time seat belt users and 16% of non-users felt that ignition latches to increase seat belt use in their vehicle would be acceptable (Kidd et al., 2014). Basically, every seat in a car requires a seat belt to ensure the total safety of passengers and the driver. You won`t be stopped for not using it by federal standards, but each state has its own seat belt laws. To check how your state enforces seat belt laws, check the Governor`s Highway Safety Association`s State Seat Belt Law Index or your local government website.
Systematic reviews of the literature show that primary and secondary laws reduce deaths and non-fatal injuries, but that primary laws have the greatest effect (Dinh-Zarr et al., 2001; Rivara et al., 1999). The differential effect of primary and secondary laws on deaths is estimated to be between 3% and 14% (Dinh-Zarr et al., 2001). “What`s most troubling is that in our age of constantly active reporting and awareness, there`s no excuse why more people aren`t wearing seat belts in all parts of the vehicle,” said Sergio Stiberman, founder and CEO of LeaseTrader.com. Research confirms that seat belt laws significantly increase seat belt use and that primary enforcement laws are more effective than secondary enforcement laws. According to NHTSA, 92 percent of front seat occupants in states with primary enforcement laws have fastened their seatbelts, compared to 86.2 percent of front seat occupants in states where secondary enforcement or no laws were passed in 2019. It is also worth noting the effect of seat belt laws on rear occupants. In 2018, 81 percent of rear seat occupants used seat belts in states with seat belt laws for all seating positions, while 68.7 percent of rear seat occupants used seat belts only for front seats in states with seat belt laws. The observed seat belt use in 2019 was lowest among occupants of pickup trucks (86%), compared to occupants of cars (91%) and vans and SUVs (93%). (National Center for Statistics and Analysis, 2019) A study of part-time seat belt users who recently received a quote for not wearing a seat belt found that an indefinite acoustic recall, or lasting 100 seconds, increased seat belt use by about one-third (Kidd & Singer, 2019).
Thirty states and D.C. have laws regarding this practice. Most of these laws restrict children in the holds, but many include exceptions. Footnote 22 Wyoming rewards observed seat belt use by reducing fines for other traffic violations by $10. ↩ Every year, about 37,000 people are killed in car accidents. Car accidents are the leading cause of death among people under the age of 25 in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that of the occupants of cars killed in 2018 who wore seat belts, 47 percent were uninhibited. A total of 9,778 people who died in accidents in 2018 were uninhibited.
NHTSA research also shows that 87% of car occupants who survived fatal accidents in 2018 were retained and 13% were uninhibited. Seat belts in passenger cars saved an estimated 14,955 lives in 2017 and prevented thousands of injuries. Another 2,549 lives could have been saved in 2017 if all uninhibited passengers involved in fatal crashes had their seat belts, according to NHTSA. Seat belt use rates are lower among fatally injured occupants than in the general population, as the risk of death is much higher if no seat belts are worn. In addition, people who do not use a belt tend to be riskier drivers. Federal agencies should require vehicles to have a visual display that warns the driver if rear occupants are not wearing seat belts. You must also extend the audible warning required for the front seat. A person who is involved in a car accident and has not worn a seat belt can be held responsible for much higher damage than if they had used a seat belt. However, when going to court, most states protect motorists from reducing their damages in a lawsuit due to not wearing a seat belt, even if they have violated the law by not wearing the seat belt.