Let’s take a poll: How many times have you gotten into the back seat of a Lyft or Uber and put on your seat belt? A new study says that number is woefully low. Everyone can agree that children need to be properly fastened in seat beats in vehicles so that they can be safe. But when it comes to grown-ups? Not so much, the findings show.
Four out of five adult back-seat passengers admit to not buckling up on short trips or when using a taxi or ride-sharing service, according to a recent survey by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
The survey shows that attitudes of safety differ starkly when it comes to the front and back seats. Many people believe that the back seat is safer than the front seat for some reason — thus they feel that strapping in is not necessary — but the research proves otherwise.
Here’s why you should buckle up in the back seat
“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,” Jessica Jermakian, an IIHS senior research engineer and the study’s co-author, said. “That applies to riding in an Uber, Lyft or other hired vehicle, too.”
Last year, the the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said that seat belt use in the United States had reached 90%, its highest level since the federal government began regular national surveys in 1994. But those numbers haven’t translated to the back seat.
Unrestrained passengers in the rear seats were nearly eight times as likely to suffer a serious injury in a crash as someone who was strapped in, the IIHS study shows.
Here are the reasons, according to the IIHS study, why people said they don’t buckle up in the back:
- The back is safer than the front (the most popular reason)
- Using a belt isn’t a habit or they forget about it or simply never or rarely use it
- The rear belts are uncomfortable or poorly fitting belts
- The belt is difficult to use or they can’t find it or the buckle
Since the 1960s and ’70s, the government has studied front-passenger seat belt use extensively, but there is simply not a lot of research on why rear-seat passengers choose not to buckle up, the study says.
Federal statistics show that more than 50% of crash fatalities each year in the United States are unbelted. Jermakian said that the danger of not strapping in doesn’t stop with the unbelted person, but extends to those in the vehicle with them.
“People who don’t use safety belts might think their neglect won’t hurt anyone else. That’s not the case,” she was quoted as saying. “In the rear seat a lap/shoulder belt is the primary means of protection in a frontal crash. Without it, bodies can hit hard surfaces or other people at full speed, leading to serious injuries.”