Seat Belts

Seat belt laws are divided into two categories: primary and secondary. Primary seat belt laws allow law enforcement officers to ticket a driver or passenger for not wearing a seat belt, without any other traffic offense taking place. Secondary seat belt laws state that law enforcement officers may issue a ticket for not wearing a seat belt only when there is another citable traffic infraction.

  • 34 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have primary seat belt laws for front seat occupants.
  • 15 states have secondary laws for adult front seat occupants.
  • 30 states, D.C., and 2 territories have laws enforcing rear seat belt use. Of these:
    • 19 states, D.C. and 2 territories include rear seats as primary enforcement. All are states that also have primary seat belt laws for front seat occupants.
    • 11 states include rear seats as secondary enforcement. Five of these are states with primary seat belt laws for front seat occupants. Six are states with secondary laws for adult front seat occupants.
  • 20 states do not have laws enforcing rear seat belt use.
    • Of states with primary front seat belt use laws, 11 states and the Virgin Islands do not include rear seats
    • Of states with secondary front seat belt use laws, 9 states do not include rear seats.
  • New Hampshire has enacted neither a primary nor a secondary seat belt law for adults in any seat, although the state does have a primary child passenger safety law that covers all drivers and passengers under 18.

belts
Law Chart

Specific laws vary greatly from state to state, depending on the age of the rider and in what seat he or she is sitting. This page covers seat belt laws for adults and young adults only. For requirements for infants, toddlers, and children, see GHSA's Child Passenger Safety Laws chart.

A PDF chart of state seat belt laws is available for download here.

NOTE: GHSA does not compile any additional data on adult seat belt laws other than what is presented here. For more information, consult the appropriate State Highway Safety Office.

Sources: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and State Highway Safety Offices.

Short Term Description
Seat belt laws are divided into two categories: primary and secondary. Specific laws vary greatly from state to state, depending on the age of the rider and in which seat he or she is sitting.

As Families Take to the Roadways, New Report Notes More Than 800 Unbuckled Rear Passengers Killed in 2018

Today, the Governors Highway Safety Association released "Rear Seat Belt Use: Little Change in Four Years, Much More to Do." This spotlight report explores adult rear seat belt use rates, state laws and enforcement, and public education efforts.

As Families Take to the Roadways, New Report Notes More Than 800 Unbuckled Rear Passengers Killed in 2018

Governors Highway Safety Association

November 18, 2019

Colorado Click It or Ticket Reasons Road Trip Videos

In 2018, 215 passenger vehicle deaths in Colorado involved unbuckled drivers and passengers. An estimated 70 of those lives could have been saved had the individual been wearing a seat belt. Regular seat belt use is the single most effective way to prevent severe injury or death in a motor vehicle crash, yet Colorado, with a rate of only 88 percent, ranks behind the national average of 90 percent.

New Campaign Promotes Rear Belt Use in Ride-Share Vehicles

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 20, 2019

CONTACT: Madison Forker, 202-580-7930

Uber and GHSA team up to keep back seat passengers safe

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the summer travel season kicks off, Uber and the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) are pleased to announce a reinvigorated and refreshed “Make it Click: Every seat. Every ride” national effort encouraging ride-share customers, and all back-seat vehicle passengers, to always buckle up.

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