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Michigan Back Seat Safety Belt Law

Why You Must Buckle Up in the Back Seat

In the state of Michigan, children must be properly buckled into a rear car seat or booster seat until they are 8 years old or 4-feet 9-inches tall. A back seat safety belt must be worn. There is no grey area when it comes to this law – buckle up, or else. And why would you want to risk your child’s safety? However, the problem with buckling up in the backseat doesn’t occur with children – it happens with adults. There are far too many fatalities for people over the age of 8 riding in the back seat, without a safety belt.

The bottom line is this: When there is a safety belt, you should be wearing it, no matter what part of the vehicle you’re sitting in.

False Safety in the Back Seat

Riding in the back seat of a car doesn’t provide extra protection in the case of an auto accident. But for some reason, adults are less likely to buckle up when riding in the back of a vehicle. Perhaps it’s because riding in the front seat and wearing a safety belt have become second nature. Riding in the back seat may happen so infrequently that strapping yourself in for safety’s sake goes neglected.

But when an auto accident occurs, neglecting to be strapped safely into the vehicle means you can be thrown forward into the dashboard or windshield, tossed upward into the roof of the car, slammed sideways into the rear passenger doors, or ejected from the car. And any of these injuries can be fatal.

Front seat passengers are far better protected than back seat passengers thanks to advances in car safety – from front and side air bags to crumple zones. But all the back seat has for protection are safety belts.

Fatal Celebrity Auto Accidents

Plenty of celebrities have been killed in auto accidents, and some of the most recent and well-known fatalities have occurred because people were not restrained while riding in the back seat.

Princess Diana was riding in a chauffeured sedan in 1997 when she was killed in a high-speed chase with the paparazzi in Paris. Her companion Dodi Fayed was not wearing a seat belt in the back seat either, nor was the driver – both lost their lives. The only person not killed in the crash was Diana’s bodyguard who was restrained by a safety belt in the front seat.

CBS News’s Bob Simon was killed in an auto accident when his car-for-hire crashed. The driver’s driving record was questionable at best, but the incident was not helped by the fact that Simon was not wearing his safety belt in the back seat.

A Beautiful Mind mathematician John Nash and his wife Alicia were also killed when the cab they were riding in crashed and they were not restrained in the back seat.

And actor Tracy Morgan, who was not killed but suffered severe injuries – including a traumatic brain injury – when his limo van was struck by a Walmart truck, was not wearing his seat belt. Some of his riding companions and friends, however, did lose their lives.

For many hired-car passengers, there is an unspoken belief that riding in a car you’ve paid for magically protects you from being involved in an auto accident. The NYC Taxi and Limousine commission reports that 57 percent of passengers fail to buckle up during their travel. But whether taxi, limo, sedan, Uber, or other source of transportation, riding in the back seat carries the same risks as it would in your own vehicle.

Most Common Injuries for Back Seat Passengers

A crash impact is usually greater in the front seat of a vehicle, but unrestrained rear seat passengers are more likely to sustain traumatic brain injuries compared to unrestrained front-seat riders, as reported to the Society of Critical Care Medicine. Air bags help protect front seat drivers and passengers, while rear passengers can hit their heads on the seat in front of them, or the side doors or windows.

Common back seat injuries can include:

  • Broken nose
  • Eye socket injuries
  • Broken or fractured jaw
  • Head injuries
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Arm fractures
  • Rib fractures
  • Broken collarbone
  • Chest injuries
  • Neck injuries

There is no time to rely on auto manufacturers to equip cars with more back seat safety mechanisms. It’s up to drivers and passengers to be diligent about wearing safety belts in the rear of a vehicle. Being a safe driver isn’t enough to protect people from accidents. Distracted drivers, drunk drivers, exhausted drivers, and poor road or weather conditions are responsible for causing auto accidents every day.

While rear seats of a vehicle may not be equipped with side or front air bags or tones to remind you to buckle up, it’s up to every person to buckle themselves up for every ride.

Christensen Law – The Michigan Auto Accident Attorney Who Gets Results

If you have been involved in an auto accident in Michigan, or someone you love was killed after a collision where they were a back seat passenger, visit an experienced personal injury attorney. Christensen Law specializes in accidents involving a motor vehicle, including:

Hire veteran Michigan auto accident attorney David Christensen to handle your case.