Adults sitting in the back of vehicles are being urged to fasten their seat belts as new U.S. figures reveal 803 passengers in unrestrained rear seats lost their lives in crashes last year.
More than half could have survived had they buckled up, according to the federal data.
The latest statistics coincide with the launch of a Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) report “Rear Seat Belt Use: Little Change in Four Years, Much More to Do” which looks at adult rear seat belt use rates, state laws and enforcement, and public education efforts.
Riders in taxis and ride-hailing vehicles buckle up in the back less often than in private vehicles and the report found rear seat belt use nationwide continues to lag significantly behind front seat belt use: 76 percent versus 90 percent, respectively.
Authors of the study also pointed out that 31 states still lack a primary rear belt use law for adult passengers.
“As millions take to the road this holiday season on family car trips, and as use of ride hailing services continues to surge, more people find themselves in the back seat of passenger vehicles,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. “That means it’s even more imperative that we work together to encourage all motor vehicle passengers to take their safety seriously, no matter the seating position.”
The report makes several recommendations to improve safety:
- States should pass and enforce strong laws and publicize the benefits of belt use in all seating positions;
- For-hire vehicle services should actively promote seat belt use to their passengers;
- Vehicle manufacturers should install rear seat belt use reminders; and
- NHTSA should develop programs and finalize federal rulemaking to require rear seat belt reminders.
A list of current state seat belt laws is available online ghsa.org/beltlaws.