In 2014, 21,022 motor vehicle passengers lost their lives. Some of these deaths could have been prevented if the passenger had been wearing a seat belt.
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research found nearly 1 in 5 drivers (17.8%) report having driven without wearing their seat belt in the past 30 days; nearly one-fifth (15.2%) report doing this more than once, and more than 1 in 20 (5.6%) report driving without a seat belt fairly often or regularly. Florida does not have a mandatory seat belt law for rear seated passengers over the age of 18. Florida ranks #2 in unrestrained passenger fatalities–510 deaths– according to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“Unfortunately many passengers will not change their behavior unless there is a legal consequence,” said Karen Morgan, Public Policy Manager, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Because of this attitude, the easiest and most cost effective way to save lives and prevent injuries is to improve the current seat belt law to cover all vehicle occupants.”
Nationally, seat belt use by adult rear seat passengers is only 78 percent, compared to 87 percent for the front seat passenger. The discrepancy is even more pronounced in motor vehicle crashes involving a fatality: 60 percent rear belt use versus 74 front belt use. It is estimated from 1975 to 2014 seat belts have saved 330,507 lives nationwide. If all passengers had worn a seat belt during those years, a total of 709,489, or an additional 378,983 lives could have been saved, according to NHTSA.
Click here for the full Traffic Safety Culture Index report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.