ST. PAUL — Seat belt use is required in the back seat in Minnesota. Many teens and young adults aren’t buckling up in the back seat, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety.
Only three (10 percent) of the 30 back-seat passengers ages 13–24 killed during 2008–2010 were buckled up. Front-seat occupants in this age group are four-to-five times more likely to be belted than those in the back.
While teens and young adults have the worst rear-seat belt compliance, back seat belt use is an issue across age sets. Only 26 percent of the 87 back seat motorists killed in the state during 2008–2010 were belted, compared to nearly 49 percent of the 818 front seat passenger fatalities.
“You can’t have a false sense of security when riding in the back seat, the rules of physics still apply,” says Donna Berger, director of the DPS Office of Traffic Safety. “It’s vital that others in the vehicle speak up and remind everyone to get belted.”
In Minnesota, it’s the law for drivers and passengers in every seat to be belted — unbelted drivers and passengers can be ticketed.
In a crash, unbelted motorists will often slam into and injure or kill others in the vehicle.
Each year, more than half of the motorists killed in Minnesota crashes aren’t belted — translating to more than 150 deaths and 400 serious injuries annually. Eighty percent of the unbelted deaths occur on Greater Minnesota roads.
Seat Belt Facts and Tips:
Seat belts restrain motorists in the vehicle’s designed protective space, giving them room to live in the event of a crash. Seat belts also keep drivers correctly positioned behind the wheel.
In rollover crashes, unbelted motorists are usually ejected from the vehicle. In less severe crashes, an unbelted motorist may crack teeth out or break their nose on the steering wheel.
Wear lap belts low and snug across the hips; shoulder straps should never be tucked under an arm or behind the back — not only is this unsafe, it is illegal.
Children under age 13 should always ride in the back seat. Children who have outgrown a forward-facing harness restraint should ride in a booster seat until they are 4-feet 9-inches tall.
Pregnant women should wear the lap belt under the stomach, as low on the hips as possible and against the upper thighs. The shoulder belt should rest between the breasts.
Airbags are designed to work with seat belts to keep vehicle occupants in a safe position during a crash — airbags are not effective when the motorist is not belted.