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.
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.
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.
Seat belt use has risen to nearly 80% in South Dakota, increasing at a rate faster than the national average. South Dakota Office of Highway Safety Director Lee Axdahl speaks to the progress made and the work remaining.
June 28, 2019
Fewer people are buckling up in the backseat than in the front, an issue addressed by GHSA and Uber's "Make It Click" campaign. GHSA Communications Manager Madison Forker notes the need to wear a seat belt regardless of vehicle, trip or seat.
Story by Keith Laing
June 4, 2019
GHSA and ride-hailing company Uber have teamed up for a second year of the Make It Click campaign. The refreshed effort encourages passengers to buckle up in every seat and on every trip.
Story by Chris Galford
May 22, 2019
As states launch their annual high visibility enforcement period focused on seat belt use, Colorado is sharing GHSA and Uber's Make It Click campaign message to spread the word about buckling up in the back seat.
May 21, 2019
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.
As the Click It or Ticket high visibility enforcement period kicks off, California Office of Traffic Safety Director and GHSA Vice Chair Rhonda Craft reminds drivers and passengers the importance of buckling up.
Story by Kimberly Fu
May 15, 2019
GHSA & Uber Eats Address Bicycle Safety
GHSA and Uber Eats have partnered to develop eight critical safety tips that are being rolled out to bicycle delivery partners at events in major Uber Eats markets across the country.