Backseat Passengers May Be Risking It All

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., (August 8, 2017) - Seatbelts are one of the most important safety systems in a motor vehicle.  Highway safety advocates have fought for years to educate and ensure that seat belts are being used correctly every time with every occupant. NHTSA estimates that in 2015, seat belts saved nearly 14,000 lives.  The most recent AAA Foundation Traffic Safety Culture Index found the majority of drivers reported using seatbelts. 


In contrast, a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that many adults view the need to buckle up in the backseat as optional.  An astonishing 4 out of 5 surveyed said they do not bother using a seatbelt when making short trips or traveling by taxi or ride-hailing service and 25 percent of respondents who reported buckling up less in the back seat said they believe the back seat is safer than the front seat.


“Back passengers don’t seem to understand the physics that come into play if there is a sudden stop of the vehicle or a collision with another object.” Dr. Georjeane Blumling, spokesperson for AAA Tidewater Virginia stated. “The force of a loose projectile in the vehicle is approximately measured in weight X speed.  In other words, a 100 pound person in a vehicle moving at 35 MPH becomes 3500 lbs. of kinetic energy bouncing around in the vehicle in a crash.”


The top reasons survey respondents reported not always using a belt in the back seat compared with the front seat were:


1.       Safer in the back so I don't need it:            25 percent

2.       Habit/forget/rarely wear it:                          13 percent

3.       Uncomfortable/doesn't fit:                           12 percent

4.       Difficult to use, find belts/buckles:              10 percent

5.       Law doesn't require it:                                  9 percent


In Virginia, seat belt use has averaged near 80% in the last few years. However, Virginia’s enforcement of seat belt use for adults is only for the front seat occupants and is a secondary enforcement statute.  This means a police officer has to stop the vehicle for another traffic infraction before issuing a ticket for lack of seat belt use. AAA has been an advocate for strong enforcement of seat belt laws that have been proven to save lives and reduces injuries and lowers crash costs to society. 


As part of North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA Tidewater Virginia provides its more than 330,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding AAA Tidewater Virginia has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.  For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter at or on Facebook at