- Children below the age of three years are secured with a child restraint
- Children aged 12 years and above use a seat belt
Understanding Seat Belt Laws
A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that, in the U.S., car accidents are the leading cause of death among people aged 5-34. Every year, up to 43,000 people die from road accidents. One way to prevent injuries and save lives is to wear a seat belt. Statistics show that seat belts are capable of reducing death or injury rates by up to 50%. A report in 2011 showed that 58% of teenage drivers who died in car accidents were not using their seat belt. In fact, teenagers have the lowest use of seat belts than any age group. Let us review some of the general seat belt laws involving cars, taxis, delivery vans, and coaches.
Seat Belt Laws for Cars
Drivers and their front seat passengers who are older than 14 are required to wear their seat belt. In some jurisdictions, passengers riding in the back seat are exempted from putting on seat belts if they fall within a certain age range. The other exemption for drivers or their passengers may arise if they have a certificate of exemption from a doctor. This certificate is usually issued by a doctor for medical reasons and the one bearing this document should carry it at all times when travelling as proof to law enforcement agencies.
Seat Belt Laws for Taxis
A licensed taxi driver may be exempted from strapping their seat belt when carrying passengers or plying for trade. However, the passengers using private hire cars or taxis are required to wear seat belts.
Seat Belt Laws for Delivery Drivers
The drivers of delivery vans and their passengers are required to wear seat belts. However, the drivers of goods vehicles travelling short distances between collections and deliveries may not be required to wear seat belts.
Seat Belt Laws for Coaches and Minibuses
In many jurisdictions, coaches and minibuses are required to have rearward facing and forward facing seat belts. Minibuses and coaches that are transporting children must also have seat belts for each child. The children must travel in the back seats if the front seats do not have seat belts. The driver of a minibus that is carrying children should ensure that:
Passengers of minibuses who are aged 14 years and above must wear seat belts and will be held individually responsible for failing to do so. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) advises states to develop child passenger laws that cover children until they reach 16 years of age.
Primary Versus Secondary Enforcement Rules
Primary seat belt rules give the police the right to stop a vehicle and issue the motorist a ticket if they are not wearing a seatbelt. In some states, pickup trucks, and other vehicles are exempted. Secondary belt laws give the police the right to stop a vehicle and issue the motorist a ticket if they are guilty of another traffic offense.
Primary seat belt regulations have proven effective in increasing the rates of seat belt usage. Studies show that these rules boost a jurisdiction’s seat belt use by up to 10 percent leading to a decline in fatalities and injuries. There are 34 states in the U.S. that use primary seat belt rules. New Hampshire is the only state that does not have seat belt laws for drivers and passengers above 18 years. In other states, seat belt laws are secondary. In 2014, NHTSA data shows that the states that had primary enforcement rules had a higher seat belt use than those states which applied secondary enforcement laws.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident and suffered an injury, speak with a licensed car accident lawyer Memphis TN relies on who represents personal injury victims. They can review your case and offer guidance on how you might recover your damages.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Patterson Bray for their insight into the importance of seat belt laws.
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