Motor vehicles are equipped with various safety features that keep drivers safe on the roadways. These safety features are paramount to avoid injuries to yourself and others in the car with you. Even in car accidents that occur at low speeds or have minor collisions, safety features like seat belts, safety glass, airbags, and more work to lessen the potential for a life-altering injury.
One of the essential safety features in a motor vehicle is a seat belt. The proper and regular use of seat belts can keep drivers and passengers secured during an accident and save lives. In an effort to protect motorists, Washington State has a primary seat belt law that gives law enforcement the right to ticket those not abiding by the mandatory use of seat belts when driving. A seat belt can be vital to surviving a car accident. Keep reading for an insight into Washington State’s seat belt laws that may save your life in the event of an accident.
Consequences of Not Abiding by Washington State Seat Belt Laws
The consequences of not wearing a seatbelt can be dire/catastrophic. In 2019, of the 22,215 people in fatal car accidents, 47% were not wearing a seatbelt. Seatbelts are the number one reason why 14,955 lives were saved in 2017, and an additional 2,549 could have been saved had they abided by the mandated seatbelt law. The consequences of not wearing a seatbelt are devastating.
The following may result if motorists choose not to wear a seatbelt:
Using a Seatbelt Keeps You Secure in Your Vehicle
Buckling up your seatbelt keeps you safe and secure inside your vehicle during a collision. When you fail to use a seatbelt, you may be ejected from the vehicle , which usually ends in a fatality.
Airbags May Not Be Enough in a Severe Accident
Airbags may not be enough to protect you. Additionally, if a driver or passenger is not buckled up, the force of an airbag deploying may even substantially injure or kill you.
Improperly Wearing a Seatbelt is as Deadly as Not Wearing One
Improperly wearing a seatbelt, for children and adults, may put you and others at risk in a car accident. Methods such as putting the seat belt below your arms can injure internal organs and cause other severe damage.
Washington State Seat Belt Laws You Need to Know
Statistics show that there are substantial benefits to wearing a seatbelt, and wearing one increases your chances of surviving an otherwise fatal car accident. If you use a seatbelt in the front seat of a passenger motor vehicle, you can reduce fatality by 45% and moderate or critical injury by 50%. In a truck, the statistics are higher with a 60% reduction in fatality rate and a 65% reduction in moderate or critical injury.
Washington State requires all people 16 years old or older to wear a seatbelt when operating or occupying a motor vehicle. All motor vehicle occupants are required to wear a seatbelt while the vehicle is in motion. No one may operate the vehicle unless all passengers, including children, have first secured their seatbelts or approved child restraint devices.
Proper seat belt use means that the vehicle’s occupants are sitting up straight, at 90-degrees, with the shoulder belt across the center of their chest. Other variations such as moving the strap behind the arms or behind the back are improper seat belt use. The lap belt should securely and snugly restrain the hips, below the stomach.
Violating Washington State’s seatbelt laws results in a traffic infraction and can result in a fine of $124 per passenger. It’s important to note that Washington State does not view failure to wear a seatbelt as negligence. It cannot serve as evidence of negligence in a personal injury claim.
Washington State Updated Child Restraint Law
Child safety is of utmost importance in Washington State. Because of this, it has enacted specific child passenger safety laws that regulate how caretakers can and cannot transport minors in motor vehicles. Breaking these safety laws can result in fines and penalties, including liability in the event of an accident.
The guidelines are as follows:
- Children ages eight and below must use a child restraint system unless taller than 4’9. The system must abide with the U.S. Department of Transportation standards.
- Children ages two and below must be properly restrained in a rear-facing car seat.
- Children ages two to four are required to ride in a car seat with a rear or forward-facing harness.
- Caretakers must use a rear-facing infant car seat for babies, generally up to eight or nine months. As the child grows, you may face the car seat forward. Transition to a booster seat once the minor reaches the age and height minimum. Secure the child in a booster seat until tall enough to properly wear a standard seatbelt.
- Caretakers transporting children under thirteen must secure them in the back seat. Only allow a child in the front passenger seat if the corresponding airbag is off if the back seat is full. An airbag could potentially severely injure the child if deployed in an accident.
Abiding by these Washington State seat belt laws increases the chances of avoiding terrible injuries during an accident. Car accidents kill children every year. In 2019, 55% of thirteen and fourteen-year-old passengers that were killed in accidents passed due to being unrestrained. As a caretaker, it is important to instill the habit of wearing a seatbelt every time you hit the road and never begin driving without checking to ensure they are secure.
Speak with a Washington State Personal Injury Lawyer
The most vital choice you can make as a motorist is to wear a seatbelt. Many of those living in Washington State may be unaware of what’s at stake when you don’t. Washington State’s seat belt laws were designed to save lives and reduce the potential for disastrous consequences.
Although wearing a seatbelt may help prevent injuries, sometimes it may not be enough in cases when you are involved in an unsuspecting accident due to the negligent actions of another driver. If this is the case, speak with the experienced personal injury legal team at Premier Law Group for an assessment of your unique case. We are passionate about the safety of our community members and provide client-oriented, compassionate representation to those who have suffered because of negligence. Call us at (206) 880-7518 for a complimentary consultation or fill out our contact form to speak with a knowledgeable personal injury.