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Cok Kinzler PLLP

Why won't you buckle up in the back seat of a ride share?

One of the main benefits of wearing a seat belt is that you won't be ejected from the vehicle in the event of a collision. Remaining in the vehicle is much safer than crashing through the windshield or landing in the roadway.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, unrestrained rear-seat passengers are almost eight times as likely to be seriously injured than those who buckle up. Moreover, an unrestrained passenger can become a projectile in a collision, putting other occupants at risk.

Putting on your seat belt should be a matter of common sense. After all, even the best drivers can't avoid all wrecks. It should be even more of a no-brainer when you're not the one driving. That includes when you're riding in the back seat, but many people seem to believe that seat belts aren't as necessary in the rear passenger compartment. They are.

Last April, for example, the rear-seat passenger in a ride-hailing vehicle was ejected through the windshield when a pickup crossed the median and struck the SUV. He was ejected because he wasn't wearing a seat belt, and he died.

803 unrestrained rear-seat passengers were killed in crashes last year. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, half of them would have survived if they had been wearing seat belts.

Yet rear-seat passengers in ride-hailing vehicles aren't in the habit of buckling up.

"I'd say that 70 to 80% of my passengers don't put on a seat belt in the back seat," one ride-hailing driver told Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts.

The problem of rear-seat passengers failing to wear seat belts is serious enough that 30 states require adult passengers in the back seat to buckle up. In 2019, eight more states introduced bills to require it, but only one passed.

We all need to get in the habit of buckling up in every seat

Aside from trying to pass laws, states, ride-hailing companies and safety advocates are working on behavioral interventions to try to increase the use of seat belts in the back seat. For example, Uber, Volvo and the Governors Highway Safety Association cooperated in an initiative recently that was aimed at reminding rear-seat passengers to buckle up. The initiative included blog posts, news releases and in-app pop-up messages encouraging back-seat passengers to buckle up.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also working on the problem. Since 2013, it has been trying to pass rules that would require automakers to install seat belt reminders for back seat passengers. However, the effort is currently stalled.

The problem is especially notable in taxis and ride-hailing vehicles. Overall, only about 76% of rear-seat passengers wear seat belts, compared with 90% of drivers and front-seat passengers. One study found, however, that the number of rear-seat passengers who buckle up dropped to between 18% and 52%. Another survey found that only 57% of routine users of taxis and ride-hailing services always buckle up in the back seat.

"They say, 'It's a short trip,' or, 'I forgot,' or, 'There's no law requiring me to do this,'" said a spokesperson for the Governors Highway Safety Association. "Or they say, 'I'm safer in the back seat, so I don't need to.'"

You need to. Take a pledge to start buckling up no matter what seat you're in.

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