Time to Buckle Down on Buckling Up

People are more lackadaisical when it comes to buckling up in the rear seat of a vehicle, a mistake says safety experts. A new study finds rear seat passengers can become human missiles in a crash, injuring not just themselves but those in the front as well.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, when a car crashes at 35 miles per hour, an unbelted passenger in the back seat can slam into the driver’s seat pushing the driver into the airbag and steering wheel. The Institute reports that drivers are twice as likely to be killed in a crash when someone in the back isn’t wearing a seat belt.

In 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, 1,018 unrestrained rear-seat occupants died in auto accidents.

Awareness increased about rear-seat restraints after the deaths of Princess Diana in 1997 who died in a fatal crash while unbuckled in the back seat of a Mercedes in Paris and CBS newsman Bob Simon in 2015 who died in a crash while sitting in a limo not wearing a seatbelt in New York.

Ninety-one percent of people always use their seat belt while sitting in the front of a vehicle while only 72 percent use it in the back seat. That number drops to 57 percent when traveling in cabs and ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft. The main reason people ignore buckling up in the back seat is that they believe it’s a safer place to be during an accident, says the report.

The fact is that seat belts save lives and help prevent serious injuries in traffic crashes. In New York, it’s the law. The state requires seat belt use by adults in motor vehicles, and seat belts, booster seats, or child safety seats for children.

New York is a “primary enforcement” state and a law enforcement officer can issue a traffic ticket for failure to wear a seat belt.

A seat belt absorbs the force of impact in a traffic crash and reduces your risk of being killed or injured. It holds you securely to help prevent you from striking hard objects inside the vehicle while being tossed around. You are less likely to be ejected through the vehicle’s windshield or doors and vehicle ejection often results in death.

Another organization, the Governors Highway Safety Association, published a report last year entitled, “Unbuckled in Back: An Overlooked Issue in Occupant Protection.” It revealed that backseat passengers are three times more likely to die in a crash if unbelted.

If you, or someone you care about, has been injured contact Rosenberg & Gluck, personal injury attorneys, for a free and confidential legal consultation to learn more about your options.