You do not have to wear a seatbelt in the back seat in Michigan if you are 16 years of age or older. If you are between the ages of 8 and 15, then you must wear a safety belt in both the back and front seats. (MCL 257.710e(3)(b) and (5)) Children under 8 must use a proper “child restraint system” wherever they are seated. (MCL 257.710d and 257.710e)
Michigan law does require people 16 and older to wear a safety belt if they are driving or riding in the front seat. (MCL 257.710e(3))(“ Each operator and front seat passenger of a motor vehicle operated on a street or highway in this state shall wear a properly adjusted and fastened safety belt …”)
But just because you may not be legally required to wear a seatbelt in the back seat in Michigan does not mean you shouldn’t. Quite the opposite. Rear seat passengers should buckle up if they want to keep themselves as well as the driver and other vehicle occupants safe.
Through my own experience as a car accident attorney, I’ve seen too many preventable tragedies that resulted from drivers and passengers – no matter where they were sitting – not wearing safety belts.
It’s important to note that a terrible injury from a car accident is not unavoidable just because you’re wearing a safety belt. There are also many circumstances where a safety belt can cause or contribute to a terrible injury. But, in general and applied to a population at large, safety belts will increase the odds that an injury will not become a serious injury and a serious injury does not become a fatal one.
Is it illegal to not wear a seatbelt in the back seat of a car in Michigan?
It is not illegal to not wear a seatbelt in the back seat of a car in Michigan if you are 16 years of age or older. Anyone who is 15 years of age or younger must be restrained if riding in the back of a motor vehicle. Passengers between the ages of 8 and 15 must wear a safety belt. Younger passengers must use a “child restraint system.”
By law, who is required to wear a seatbelt in the back seat in Michigan?
Passengers who are between the ages of 8 and 15 are required by law to wear a seatbelt in the back seat in Michigan. Passengers under the age of 8 must be restrained in a “child restraint system” when they are seated in the back of a motor vehicle. The restraint requirements for both age groups also apply in the front seat.
Do other states require passenger riding in the back of a motor vehicle to wear safety belts?
Unlike Michigan, 39 states, D.C., and 2 territories have laws enforcing rear safety belt use, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association’s list of “Seat Belt Laws by State.”
Is it dangerous to not wear a seatbelt in the back seat in Michigan?
You are putting yourself and others in the vehicle – the driver and passengers – at risk if you do not wear a seatbelt in the back seat in Michigan. A driver is twice as likely to be killed in a frontal crash when the passenger behind him or her is not wearing a safety belt, according to the IIHS.
Specifically, IIHS states: “In a frontal crash, an unbelted rear-seat passenger sitting behind a belted driver increases the risk of fatality for the driver by 137 percent compared with a belted rear-seat passenger.”
Research shows that 60% of the passengers riding in the back of a vehicle who were killed in car crashes were not wearing safety belts, according to the NHTSA’s “Seat Belts” page (“Back Seat”).
The IIHS has even previously reported that “[u]nrestrained rear-seat occupants were nearly 8 times as likely to sustain a serious injury in a crash as restrained rear-seat occupants.”
Does wearing a seatbelt in the back seat in Michigan save lives?
In Michigan, the wearing of lap-only seatbelts by passengers in the back seat reduced the risk of death by 48% in cars and 73% in minivans, pickups and SUVs, according to IIHS and NHTSA. The use of lap/shoulder safety belts in the outboard rear seats reduced fatalities by 54% and 75%, respectively.
Safety belt use statistics for Uber, Lyft or a taxi
Full time safety belt use is lower in the rear seat, especially for people whose primary form of transportation is Uber, Lyft or a taxi, according to the IIHS. Fewer than 60% of these passengers report “always” using a safety belt in the rear seat.
There is a common – albeit mistaken belief – that riding in the back of a vehicle is safer.
Additionally, adults between 35 and 54 were the least likely group to report always buckling up in the back of a vehicle, according to the IIHS.
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