It is common knowledge that seat belts are one of the most effective and life-saving safety features in a motor vehicle. In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 13,941 lives were saved by proper seat belt use. However, they are useless if the occupants of the vehicle do not use them. A new report published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that close to 20 percent fewer drivers used their seatbelt when riding in the back seat, compared to those in the front seat. Moreover, that number decreases by another 15 percent for people traveling in cabs or in the back seat of a Lyft or Uber vehicle.
According to an IIHS Senior Research Engineer and co-author of the IIHS report, people are less likely to use their seatbelt when riding in the back seat. Whereas 91 percent of motor vehicle occupants use their seat belt consistently when riding in the front seat, only 72 percent buckle up when riding in the back seat. When asked about why they did not use their seat belt in the back seat, many respondents said that they felt safer in the back seat and that they did not need to use a seatbelt.
However, studies show that not only is the rear seat passenger at risk of serious injuries in the event of a wreck if they are not buckled in, it puts the driver at a greater risk of being fatally injured. In fact, according drivers are twice as likely to be fatally injured if the back seat passenger directly behind them is not restrained. This means that a person’s unfortunate choice to remain unbelted in the back seat can have fatal consequences for the occupants in the front seat.
Effectiveness of Belt Reminders and Seatbelt Laws
Approximately two-thirds of the respondents who are not consistent seatbelt users said that they would be more likely to buckle up if the vehicle had audible rear-seat reminders. The IIHS study shows that seatbelt use is higher and fatality rates are lower in vehicles that have seat belt reminders, compared to those that do not. Unfortunately, as of 2015, only three percent of cars sold in the United States came equipped with this technology.
Respondents also said that they would be more likely to use their seatbelt in the back seat if there was a law requiring it, or if there was a chance they could be pulled over and ticketed if the rear occupants were not wearing seatbelts. Currently, only 29 states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring that rear-seat passengers wear seatbelts. Maryland is not one of them.
Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Crash Victims
If you have been injured in a car accident due to another person’s negligence, you are urged to contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will thoroughly investigate the details of the accident and determine who is responsible for your injuries. Our dedicated team will seek the maximum financial compensation you deserve. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent car accident victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.