- R.F Wittmeyer
- August 21, 2017
Did you know: nine out of ten American front seat car passengers report wearing a seat belt in the front seat? However, according to a new study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the same cannot be said for backseat passengers.
The IIHS surveyed a group of adults regarding their seat belt habits. Most adults said they understood the importance of always wearing a seat belt in the front seat. However, the study showed that adults believe the back seat is safer. Therefore, adults buckled up less often in the backseat. According to the IIHS, “4 out of 5 surveyed…say short trips or traveling by taxi or ride-hailing service are times they don’t bother to use the belt.” In total, only 72% of the adults surveyed reported wearing a seat belt in the backseat. 91% wore a seat belt in the front seat.
The Common Misconception: The Back Seat Is Safer
The backseat being safer than the front seat of a vehicle is a common misconception. Seat belts matter regardless of where a person sits in a vehicle. Over half of the people who die in vehicle crashes in the United States every year do not wear their seat belts. If you have been involved in an accident with another car with individuals who did not wear their seat belts, contact the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. today. While many believe they should wear seat belts to protect themselves from injury, all riders should wear seat belts.
According to the IIHS study, when a backseat passenger does not wear a seatbelt during a collision, that unbelted passenger “can slam into the driver’s seat, pushing the driver into the airbag and steering wheel with a 35 mile per hour impact.” Jessica Jermakian, an IIHS senior research engineer and a co-author of the study, states “in the rear seat a lap/shoulder belt is the primary means of protection in a frontal crash. Without it, bodies can hit hard surfaces or other people at full speed, leading to serious injuries.”
As part of the study, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted a simulated car crash. The findings? Vehicle drivers are twice as likely to be fatally injured in collision when the passenger behind the driver is not wearing their seat belt.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that unbelted backseat collision injuries and deaths became of high interest after such incidents as the death of Princess Diana in 1997 and newsman Bob Simon in 2015. Jermakian states “That crash brought a lot of attention to the issue, but people still think they are safer in the backseat and they don’t need to buckle up.” However, Jermakian says that it is quite the opposite. “…The laws of physics aren’t suspended just because you’ve moved to the backseat. You still need to buckle up to get the best protection in a crash.”
In line with the old saying, seat belts do save lives. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it is estimated that seatbelts saved 13,941 lives in 2015. When seatbelts are worn, the risk of death of front seat passengers is reduced by 45 percent for cars and increases to 60 percent for passengers of SUVs, pickup trucks, or vans. The Administration additionally estimated that 2,800 deaths could be prevented if everyone buckled up when they got into a vehicle.
Buckle Up for Safety
So, buckling up is clearly important. But what are car companies and legislation makers doing make sure people buckle up?
A few things such as:
- alert tones
- warning lights
- strong, well-communicated laws
And surprisingly, these things are encouraging passengers to buckle up. According to the IIHS study, 75 percent of the surveyed said they would buckle up if they were reminded to do so. Another 73 percent said they would buckle up if the driver was concerned about being pulled over for an infraction. 62 percent of those surveyed said they would buckle up if they had an audible reminder.
While car makers are listening to survey results and installing seat belt reminding technology, legislators are working to pass laws requiring drivers and passengers alike to wear seat belts. Currently, 29 states and Washington, D.C. require rear passengers to buckle up. Of those 30, 20 states have primary enforcement rules, or rather rules stating that police can pull over a car specifically because someone isn’t wearing a seat belt. Illinois is one of these states.
There is no new advice when it comes to wearing a seat belt.