Do you have to wear a seat belt in the back seat? Many passengers may ask this question when getting in your car. Passengers may resist wearing a seat belt because they don’t want to wrinkle their clothing or because they think they are safe enough in the backseat without it. While there is a common perception that the back seat is safe enough without a seat belt, it’s important to think carefully about your answer. Here are five reasons to wear a seat belt even in the back seat.
Protect Against Injuries and Death
In 2015, seat belt use saved an estimated 13,900 lives. Accidents are the fourth most common cause of death in the United States, with motor vehicle accidents a large fraction of these. One of the deadliest outcomes of a car accident is where a passenger is ejected from the vehicle. This can happen to back seat passengers as well. Seat belts mostly prevent passengers from being ejected. With seat belt use, the chance of serious injury or death is reduced by up to 50%.
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When drivers ask “Do you have to wear a seat belt in the back seat?”, insurance companies will always say “yes.” If all of your passengers are not properly restrained, it’s possible that the insurance company will not cover your claim in case of an accident. Also, the other driver at fault may be able to claim the “seat belt defense” and reduce the amount awarded in an accident.
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Air Bags don’t Work as Well
Passenger airbags are designed to supplement seat belt use, not to replace it. Even side curtain airbags can injure backseat passengers when they are unrestrained. In some models of car, the airbags are not activated until the seat is buckled. Most cars also have a feature which tightens seat belts in the event of a crash and causes the airbag to deploy in the correct position to reduce passenger injuries.
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Always Buckle Children
When children ask “Do you have to wear a seat belt in the back seat?” the answer should always be “yes.” In many states, children are required to ride in the backseat in properly installed child restraint systems or booster seats. Children should always be buckled properly and use the type of seat which is most appropriate for their size and weight. The National Highway Transportation Safety Agency publishes guidelines. While children frequently rode unrestrained in previous decades, they are not adequately protected in the backseat without a seat belt. It is imperative that children always wear a seat belt or sit in a child safety seat.
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It’s the Law
Nearly every state has strict seatbelt laws: the only one which does not in New Hampshire, where only passengers under 18 are required to buckle up. Not wearing seatbelts, even in the backseat, can cause the driver to be pulled over and rack up costly tickets.
This post answers the question of “do you have to wear a seat belt in the backseat?” While the backseat is statistically safer for unrestrained passengers, it is important to continue using the seat belt to prevent death and injury as well as reducing liability.