Pennsylvania's mandatory seat belt law isn't just about keeping you safe — it's about everyone in your vehicle.
Studies have shown that in a 30 mph crash, an unrestrained adult is thrown with a force of 3 ½ tons — or about the weight of an elephant. Can you imagine if you were that elephant hitting a loved one in your vehicle?
And the idea that wearing a seat belt is ultimately your choice and affects only your safety isn't the only misconception around seat belt safety. Here are a few more:
I'M NOT DRIVING VERY FAR.
FACT: Three out of four crashes occur within 25 miles of home.
I'M RIDING IN THE BACK SEAT.
FACT: You can still be thrown from a vehicle even if you are riding in the back seat. If you are unrestrained, you also pose a risk to others in the vehicle with you.
I DON'T WANT TO BE TRAPPED BY A SEAT BELT IN CASE MY VEHICLE CATCHES FIRE OR IS SUBMERGED IN WATER.
FACT: Less than one-half of one percent of all injury crashes involves fire or submersion. Also, national research has shown you are 25 times more likely to be killed if you are ejected from the vehicle.
I'M DRIVING AT NIGHT AND THE POLICE WON'T SEE ME.
FACT: Police departments are increasing nighttime enforcement. In addition, there are more high-risk drivers on the roads at night, such as impaired drivers and drowsy drivers, which may present increased risk for a crash.
I'M PREGNANT AND THE SEAT BELT IS TOO TIGHT.
FACT: Wearing your seat belt is the best defense for you and your baby in the event of a crash. Adjust the lap belt so that it fits snugly over the hips and pelvis, below your belly.
Pennsylvania's seat belt law requires drivers and passengers 18 years and older wear a seat belt when behind the wheel or in the front passenger seat. If you are a driver 18 or older and police pull you over for another violation, you'll receive a second ticket if you or your front-seat passengers aren't wearing seat belts.
If you are a driver or passenger under 18 years of age, you must buckle up anywhere in the vehicle. This is a primary offense for drivers and passengers under 18 years of age and does not require another traffic violation to receive a ticket. And then there are our child passenger restraint laws, which require:
- Under Pennsylvania's primary child passenger safety law, children under the age of 4 must be properly restrained in an approved child safety seat anywhere in the vehicle;
- Children under 2 must be secured in a rear-facing car seat until the child outgrows the maximum weight and height limits designated by the car seat manufacturer; and
- Children ages 4-8 must be restrained in an appropriate booster seat.
For more information on seat belt safety, visit www.penndot.gov/safety. Follow PennDOT on social media – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.