Seat Belts

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The chart below describes the statewide laws related to adult seat belt use across the country. Use the arrows below the chart to toggle through the states in alphabetical order. To advance slowly, click the single right arrow (>). To jump to the end, click the double arrows (>>). Or use the filter by state feature to jump to a specific state.
 
Download a PDF chart of seat belt laws for all states here.
 
Scroll down for a summary overall totals of the number of states that have specific provisions.

Alabama Alaska American Samoa Arizona
Type of Law

Primary

Type of Law

Primary

Type of Law

Secondary

Who is Covered?

15 and over

Who is Covered?

16 and over

Who is Covered?

8 and over

In What Seat?

Front (secondary enforcement in rear seat)

In What Seat?

All

In What Seat?

8-15 yrs: All
8 and over: Front

Type of Law

Primary

Who is Covered?

15 and over

In What Seat?

Front (secondary enforcement in rear seat)

Type of Law

Primary

Who is Covered?

16 and over

In What Seat?

All

Type of Law

Secondary

Who is Covered?

8 and over

In What Seat?

8-15 yrs: All
8 and over: Front

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.

  • 35 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.
  • 39 states, D.C., and 2 territories have laws enforcing rear seat belt use. Of these:
    • 20 states, D.C. and 2 territories have primary enforcement for all occupants.
    • 5 states have primary enforcement for youth.
    • 11 states include rear seats as secondary enforcement. Three of these are states with primary seat belt laws for front seat occupants. Six are states with secondary laws for adult front seat occupants.
  • 10 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.