While all states but New Hampshire require front-seat seatbelts by law, only 22 states have laws affecting backseat riders. Georgia is one of those states that do not require use of a rear-seat restraint.
I personally don’t believe in criminalizing behavior as the best way to encourage people to act a certain way. Some behavior should be practiced by everyone because it simply makes sense. You are far safer in a vehicle if something is restraining you from slamming into other parts of the vehicle or even worse flying out the window.
In this case of seatbelts, statistics back up the conclusion of what I consider common sense. The National Highway Safety Administration estimates that seatbelts saved the lives of 12,584 front seat passengers in 2013 alone. Most people get the message, and in recent years its estimated that more than 87 percent of drivers and passengers buckle up when in the front seat. (That’s an amazing increase since 1982, when only about 11 percent of people used a seatbelt when riding in a car!).
But while front-seat restraints are in use during most crashes, far fewer people buckle up when in the backseat. While statistics show riding in the back seat is far safer than front-seats in the event of a crash, seatbelts still greatly increase the rate of survival for rear-seat passengers. The study claims that more than 400 of the 883 occupants killed in 2013 would have likely survived those crashes had they been restrained.
Among the statistics of traffic fatalities that occurred in the past year were high profile deaths of CBS news correspondent Bob Simon who died while unrestrained in the back seat of a limousine in Manhatten, NY. A month after that, Nobel Prize winner John F. Nash Jr. (portrayed by Russell Crowe in the 2001 motion picture A Beautiful Mind) and his wife were thrown from a taxi in which they were both unrestrained in the backseat.
The bottom line is that everyone should always wear a seatbelt no matter where they sit in a moving vehicle. As car accident attorneys, we talk to people every day who have been injured in auto accidents. Sometimes we look at an accident photo of a smashed up vehicle, and cannot believe that victims survived the collision, much less walked away.