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All of America Must Buckle Up

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author photo by Autotrader August 2010

Half of America's states require all motor vehicle passengers to wear a seatbelt. In the other half, however, there are no laws requiring adults to buckle up. Not only is it a risk for adults to ride without a restraint, but crash data shows that unbelted rear passengers magnify the danger to belted front seat occupants, making them nearly five times more likely to suffer fatal injuries.

"The most important thing you can do in any vehicle at any time is wear your seatbelt in all seating positions," said Michele Fields, general counsel at the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), the independent, non-profit, research and communications organization funded by auto insurers. The agency is dedicated to reducing deaths, injuries and property losses from crashes on the nation's highways. "The gaps with regard to children have almost all been closed, but there are still gaps for adults," said Fields.

Seatbelt use has increased over the past decade as "primary" seat-belt laws allow police to stop drivers for the sole reason of being unbelted. In 2009, national seatbelt use was close to 85 percent and seatbelts are believed to have saved approximately 13,000 lives, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (NHTSA), although data on deaths for unbelted rear seat passengers is not available.

Having a comprehensive seatbelt law is one criterion for states to receive transportation project funding from the federal government. There is also legislation pending that would expand coverage of seatbelt laws to rear occupants in the remaining 25 states. In all states, children must be in a restraint.

Since 2007, all new cars sold in the United States require a lap and shoulder belt in the rear center seat. The NHTSA estimates that seatbelts save more than 4,000 lives and over 100,000 injuries a year in the U.S.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
All of America Must Buckle Up - Autotrader