Innovation and advancements in technology have made vehicles safer than ever, but a recent report published by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) raises concerns about back-seat passengers in car accidents. The focal point: Seatbelt use. The data indicate that 803 unrestrained individuals died in auto crashes in the US in 2018, and GHSA researchers estimate that 400 of them would be alive today if they had buckled up. Unfortunately, the figures also reveal that only around 76% of back-seat occupants do use seat belts – compared to 90% of people sitting in the front.
If you were injured in an auto crash, it is important to consult with a Miami car accident attorney no matter where you were sitting in the vehicle. Still, you should be aware of the special concerns for back-seat passengers.
Florida Seat Belt Laws
Most state statutes covering seat belt use are based upon age, position in the car, or a combination of the two. All occupants in the front seat, including drivers and passengers of any age, must buckle up when the vehicle is in motion. Plus, any passengers under 18 years old must buckle up when riding in the back seat. There are additional laws regarding car seats and booster seats for younger children.
Failure to comply with seat belt statutes is a primary offense in Florida, which means that police can pull you over immediately if they see violations of the law. Officers do not have to observe you breaking another traffic-related regulation to cite you. The fine for noncompliance with seat belt laws is $30, though the final total would be around $116 after court costs.
Do Not Underestimate Dangers for Back-Seat Passengers
It is well-known that seatbelt use saves lives, but many only focus on the protections for front-seat passengers. Some studies indicate that those riding in the rear seats are up to two times more likely to be killed in a car accident if they are not buckled up. This statistic may be closely linked to the fact that automakers dedicate significant efforts to protecting occupants in the front when designing cars – and not as much effort to safeguard those behind them.
Seat Belt Usage and Rideshare Services
It is also disturbing to learn that passengers in taxis and users of rideshare services are even less likely to buckle up as compared to occupants of private cars. GHSA cited one survey in which just 57% of respondents reported that they did wear a restraint when hiring a vehicle. For many of them, the reason was that the ride was just a short trip.
Get Legal Help From a Miami Car Accidents Lawyer
At Gerson & Schwartz, PA, our attorneys have seen first-hand how auto crash injuries can be life-changing. We encourage all to stay safe by buckling up, but we also realize how wearing a seat belt does not prevent collisions caused by other negligent drivers. For more information on our legal services for victims of motor vehicle accidents, please contact our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL. We can schedule a free consultation to discuss your rights and remedies.