How Passengers Can Prevent Harm to Themselves and Others in the Event of an Auto Accident
Seatbelt laws vary based on the state, some require only the driver and front passenger to wear seatbelts while others require everyone in the car to, but even in states that require backseat passengers to wear seatbelts, people still refuse to buckle up. One survey noted that four out of five adults say they never buckle up when going for a short ride in an Uber or taxi. This habit of not using a seatbelt as a backseat passenger is a deadly trend, not only for those in the back seat but for passengers riding up front as well.
Famous Lives Lost Due to Lack of Seatbelt Use
Twenty years ago, Princess Diana, one of the most famous photographed women in the world was tragically killed in a car accident after she jumped in the backseat of a vehicle driven by what we now know was a drunk driver. What ensued was a horrific crash that not only killed her, but her boyfriend, the driver and seriously injured a fourth passenger. More recently, in 2015 CBS newsman Bob Simon was killed while riding in the backseat of a car without a seatbelt.
According to a recent news report in a national publication, those riding in rear seats of vehicles are eight times more likely to be injured in an auto accident. Despite this, the article noted a recent national survey by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which found only 72% of those questioned said they always use a belt in the back seat. That falls way short of the 91% who say they always use one when seated in front. The survey also digs a little deeper and as noted in the news story, “It gets worse for those people who use ride-for-hire services; only 57 percent of respondents say they regularly use rear seatbelts when riding in a taxi, Uber, or other services, the survey found.”
Inconsistent U.S. Seatbelt Laws
When it comes to adult rear passengers and seatbelt laws, according to the Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA), only 18 states, District of Columbia and two U.S. territories have primary enforcement laws requiring those in the back seat to be buckled in. Primary seatbelt laws give law enforcement officers the ability to stop a vehicle and issue a ticket to the driver if the officer sees a backseat passenger unbuckled. There does not have to be any other traffic violation noted to stop the vehicle. Four other states have secondary enforcement, meaning that an officer can only issue a ticket for unbuckled rear seat passengers if they have stopped the vehicle for another violation. And finally, 12 states and the Virgin Islands have no law requiring rear passengers to be restrained.
Colorado is one of the states that does not require rear adult passengers to wear a safety belt. It’s also one of the states with a front seat secondary law, in that, you can’t be ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt unless you are stopped for some other traffic infraction and found not to be wearing one. And, according to one state agency, only 84 percent of state vehicle passengers wear a seatbelt, this despite that half of those killed in vehicle crashes in 2016 were unrestrained passengers. The Colorado Department of Transportation notes that of the 389 people killed on Colorado roads in vehicle crashes, nearly 190 of them were not buckled in.
If you are one of those who believes riding in the back seat is safer than the front; therefore, you don’t need a seatbelt, watch this short video.