Unbuckled Rear Seat PassengersOctober 4, 2017
Wearing a seat belt is one of the most important things we can do to protect ourselves from serious injuries in the event of a car accident. This goes for front seat occupants as well as those in the back seat. Yet, according to a survey conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), while the majority of respondents said that they always buckled up when they rode in the front seat, this was not the case for backseat passengers. This can have devastating consequences, not only for the rear passenger, but for the front seat occupant as well.
IIHS Survey Results
According to the IIHS survey, 91 percent of the 1,172 respondents said that they always used a seatbelt when riding in the front seat. However, only 72 percent said that they used their seatbelts when riding in the back seat of a personal car. Only slightly more than half of the respondents said that they wore their seatbelt when riding in an Uber, Lyft, or other type of hailed vehicle. Respondents between the ages of 35 and 54 were the least likely group to use seat belts in the back seat. In fact, only 66 percent of this group reported that they always buckled up in the back seat, compared to 73 percent of 18 to 34 year old respondents.
This is concerning, considering the fact that a rear seat passenger who is not wearing a seatbelt can hit the front seat with enough force to crush the driver into the steering wheel. In this crash test, the car was only operating at a speed of 35 miles per hour. In real life, a front seat driver is twice as likely to suffer fatal injuries in a car accident if the passenger sitting behind them is not wearing a seatbelt, according to the IIHS. In addition, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reported that unbelted rear seat passengers are three times more likely to be fatally injured in a car accident.
Jonathan Adkins, Executive Director of GHSA, spoke about this issue as it relates to ridesharing. He said that just because a passenger is using Uber, Lyft, or a taxi does not mean that they are not at risk. All passengers must wear seat belts for their own safety, as well as the other occupants in the vehicle. Adkins said that fixing this problem will require stricter seatbelt laws and widespread education campaigns. While every state, with the exception of New Hampshire, requires front seat passengers to wear their seatbelts, only 29 states have laws requiring rear seat passengers to buckle up. As of 2015, Maryland requires back seat passengers to also buckle up.
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