I have good news and bad news. First the good news. According to a new report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, about 91% of adults always use seat belts in the front seat. Now here’s the bad news. Only 72% of adults use seat belts when they are in the back of a car.
“For most adults, it’s still as safe to ride in the back seat as the front seat, but not if you aren’t buckled up,” says Jessica Jermakian, an IIHS senior research engineer and a co-author of the study. “That applies to riding in an Uber, Lyft or other hired vehicle, too.”
Oh, it’s Safer?
Why the drop? The most common response (25% of applicants) for not buckling up was the false notion that the backseat was safer and wearing a seat belt in the back was unnecessary. The adults surveyed want more comfortable seat belts in the back.
According the the report 57% of passengers in hired ride share vehicles reported always using their belt in the rear seat, compared with 74% of passengers in personal vehicles.
How to Increase Seat Belts in the Back Seat
75% of the adults surveyed said they would wear a seat belt in the back if they were reminded by someone else in the car, while over half said an alert from the car would get them to buckle up.
Many surveyed say that stronger seat belt laws would get them to buckle up. Rear-seat passengers are covered by seat belt laws in 29 states and D.C. 20 of these laws carry primary enforcement, meaning an officer can stop a driver solely for a belt-law violation. The rest are secondary, so an officer must have another reason to stop a vehicle before issuing a safety belt citation. New Hampshire is the only state that doesn’t require adults to wear a seat belt in the front seat. Get with the times, New Hampshire!
In 2015, the the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates seat belts saved 13,941.