Safety doesn't take a back seat; buckle up in your next cab, Uber, or Lyft

August 4, 2017

Just because you're riding in the back seat doesn't mean you're any safer in a crash, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

A report released this week revealed that four out of five adults who admitted that they didn't buckle up in the back said they didn't buckle up in cabs or ride-sharing services either.

That's despite a 2015 report by the IIHS and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia that found no difference in the risk of death in a serious crash if passengers are sitting in the front or rear seat.

"For most adults, it is 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 a co-author of the study, said in a statement. "That applies to riding in an Uber, Lyft or other hired vehicle, too."

The IIHS surveyed nearly 1,200 people and found that most respondents said they buckled up in the front and rear seats. Of the surveyed respondents, 72 percent say they buckle up in the back seats, compared to 91 percent for front-seat riders.

READ MORE: The states that do (and don't) like to use seat belts

Among the respondents who said they skip seat belts in the back, three-quarters said they'd buckle up if someone in the car told them to use their heads their seat belts. Nearly the same number of people (73 percent) said they'd buckle up if they knew the driver could be pulled over for not having rear passengers restrained. According to the report, 29 states including the District of Columbia, require rear-seat passengers to be buckled in, and 20 states make it a primary offense, which means drivers can be stopped for unrestrained rear passengers. Three in five passengers in the rear seat said they'd wear seat belts if they were aware of a law requiring them to do so.

But the risk isn't theirs alone, according to the report. A 2013 University of Virginia study found that drivers riding ahead of unrestrained rear-seat passengers were twice as likely to die in fatal crashes than drivers whose rear-seat passengers were wearing their seat belts.

"People who don't use safety belts might think their neglect won't hurt anyone else. That's not the case," Jermakian said in a statement.

According to the IIHS survey of 1,172 people, nearly 17 percent of grown, adult, human people who have presumably made it into adulthood and can answer a cellphone survey in some recognizable fashion answered "I don't know" when asked why they don't wear seat belts in the back seat of a hired car despite overwhelming evidence that they could be hurt or hurt others in a serious crash.

Yeah, we don't know either. Buckle up, folks.

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