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Do Adults Need to Wear Seat Belts When in the Back Seat?

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If you’re like most adults, you’ve always been told, or at least believed, that wearing seat belts when you’re riding in the back seat wasn’t necessary. After all, you’re in the back seat, away from the windshield, and you’re protected by the front seats, so you wouldn’t suffer any real damage if you were involved in an accident, right? Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, rear seat passengers are three times more likely to die in accidents if they aren’t buckled up.

Riding Dangerously

The back seat is usually the place for kids, but more and more adults find themselves taking up the space. Carpooling to work or out to dinner in a group means that some adults have to sit in the back. Additionally, the advent of ride sharing services also means that more adults sit in the back seat. Families driving together during the holidays is also a time when adults often occupy the back seat, particularly around Thanksgiving and Christmas, and a majority of passengers fail to buckle up. 

Unfortunately, many of these adults feel a false sense of security and believe that they are safe in the back seat without seat belts. Frightening numbers prove otherwise, however. In fact, hundreds of unbelted adults in the rear seats of passenger vehicles die each year. According to a study by the Governors Highway Safety Association, in 2003, there were 883 unrestrained rear seat passenger fatalities for age 8 and older, and 400 of these victims could have been saved if they were simply wearing seatbelts.

Seat Belt Use in the Back Seat Is Underwhelming

Although you’d be hard pressed to find an adult who would let his child ride in the back seat without buckling up, that same adult probably wouldn’t strap himself in. Nationally, adult back seat belt use is only 78 percent, compared to 87 percent for the front. The difference is even more pronounced in fatal crashes, as 60 percent of back seat passengers weren’t wearing belts, while 74 percent of front seat passengers were.

The Dangers of the Back Seat

woman in back seatBack seats don’t typically have the same safety technology that front seats are equipped with. Passenger vehicles lack the airbags and advanced seat belts that front seats do. Additionally, most vehicles also only feature audible reminders (that annoying “ding” sound) for front seat occupants who fail to buckle up—not when those in the back seat fail to do so. The result is an alarming number of occupants who forget or simply don’t put their seat belts on.

Unbelted back seat passengers can become human projectiles when involved in car accidents. They can be tossed around the vehicle, become ejected, or even injure or kill other passengers in the vehicle. Back seat occupants who are not restrained are prone to experiencing chest, head, and neck injuries, which are oftentimes fatal. In 2015, newsman and 60 Minutes anchor Bob Simon was killed while riding unbuckled in the back of a livery cab in Manhattan. John Nash, the inspiration behind the A Beautiful Mind movie, and his wife were also killed when the taxi cab they were riding in was involved in an accident.

Texas Seat Belt Laws

Texas seat belt laws are designed to protect both drivers and passengers. In fact, drivers and passengers alike can receive hefty fines for not buckling up. Texas law requires that all occupants in vehicles are restrained by seat belts—even adults in the back seat. If they are found to be unrestrained, they can face fines and court costs of up to $200. 

Count on Wayne Wright to Defend Your Rights

Accident victims go through enough with the injuries they suffer and the bills they receive as a result. They also have to endure the stress of getting their vehicles repaired, and the expense of doing so. Having experienced attorneys on their sides, however, can make this difficult time a little easier. The legal team of Wayne Wright will stand up for your rights and attempt to help you receive the financial compensation you may be eligible for. Contact us today by calling 800-237-3334 to schedule an appointment to speak with a legal professional about your situation.

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