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05 August 2017

Survey: Passengers in Hired Vehicles Often Don’t Use Seat Belts

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People have had a few decades now to get used to buckling up every time they get in the car, but apparently there is still room for improvement when it comes to seat belt use. According to a survey conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 91 percent of people say they always buckle up in the front seat, but only 72 percent of people can’t say the same while riding in the back seat. Meanwhile, the survey shows some disturbing data about poor seat belt use among those in hired vehicles.

According to IIHS, people who say most of their trips as rear-seat passengers take place in hired vehicles were more likely not to consistently use their seat belt. Only 57 percent of passengers in hired cars reported always buckling up, compared with 74 percent of passengers in personal vehicles.

In the survey, 4 out of 5 adults who don’t always use seat belts in the rear say they tend not to bother with it in a taxi or other ride-hailing vehicle. Those between the ages of 35 and 54 were most likely to skip the seat belt. Only 66 percent of these respondents say they always use a seat belt in the back of a vehicle, compared to 73 percent of younger folks between the ages of 18 to 34 and 76 percent of people 55 and older. Women are more likely than men to always use a seat belt, as are adults who attended college.

The most common reason given for ditching the rear seat belt is the perception that it’s unnecessary. A quarter of people who don’t buckle cite this reason, saying they think the back seat is safer than the front. The next most popular reason is forgetfulness. Other reasons include poorly fitting belts (12 percent) and seat belts that are difficult to use or difficult to find (10 percent).

“For most adults, it’s still as safe to ride in the back seat as the front seat, but not if you aren’t buckled up,” said Jessica Jermakian, an IIHS senior research engineer and a co-author of the study, in a press release. “That applies to riding in an Uber, Lyft or other hired vehicle, too.”

There could be ways to combat low seat belt usage. IIHS says nearly two-thirds of belt offenders say they would be more likely to buckle up if the car gave audible rear seat belt reminders. As of 2015, only 3 percent of models sold in the U.S. had this feature. Some states don’t require passengers in the rear seat to buckle up, and according to IIHS, nearly 40 percent said they sometimes choose not to use a seat belt in the back because there is no law requiring it. More than half of part-time and non-seat belt users also said more comfortable seat belts would help convince them to use the safety feature.

IIHS surveyed 1,172 people ages 18 and older between June and August 2016. Admittedly, it’s a small sample size, but it shows that seat belt usage may be lower than what many of us thought.

Source: IIHS

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