Rules for seat belt use vary widely from state to state. Most rules focus on using front-seat safety restraints, and make failing to use the belts a primary violation. Drivers and front seat passengers may get a citation or have points assessed against their driving records for failing to buckle up. Recently, states are turning their focus to creating additional safety restraint rules for those in the backseat. While Tennessee requires drivers and passengers in the front seats to wear seat belts, it is one of several states that do not currently require backseat seat belt use. Buckling up in the backseat can reduce the possibility of serious injury or death in the event of a car accident.
Statistics from 2008 show the disparity among front and rear seat belt use. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, only 74 percent of those riding in the backseat buckle up. Front seat drivers and passengers use seat belts 83 percent of the time. Nationally, seat belts were credited with saving more than 13,000 lives in accidents that occurred in 2008. Advocates are pushing for all occupants of vehicles to use seat belts, as the NHTSA statistics show that using a rear seat belt can reduce the risk of death or serious injury by 75 percent.
Since 2007, six states have enacted legislation designed to promote safety of those in the backseat. Highways and interstates have 18-wheelers and other vehicles, large and small, driving at high rates of speed. Even a short trip can result in serious injuries. If an accident were to occur, whatever is not restrained is at risk. Unrestrained passengers become projectiles, flying into windshields or other passengers at high speeds. It is possible that passengers are ejected from the vehicle.
Some states, like Ohio, lower legal damages to accident victims if they were not using seat belts. By taking a few moments to buckle up, you can help prevent serious injuries or death in the event of a motor vehicle accident. Encourage passengers to be safe. If you have been injured, speak with a personal injury attorney in your area to learn more about your options.