Highway safety advocates want to close a deadly gap in the nation’s seat belt laws: Most states don’t require adult passengers in the back seat to buckle up, reports USA Today. Forty-nine state have seat belt laws for adults, but only 21 states require that seat belts be used in all seating positions. Safety advocates hope a new federal transportation funding bill will include incentives for states to enact seat belt laws for all vehicle occupants, no matter where they’re sitting.
Last week, Minnesota became the 21st state to require that all vehicle occupants wear seat belts. Rear seat belt use in the USA was at 74% in 2008, compared with 83% for front seat belts. Wearing rear seat lap and shoulder belts greatly improves the odds of surviving crashes – for both rear and front seat passengers, research shows. Rear seat lap and shoulder belts are 44% more effective in reducing crash fatalities compared with unrestrained occupants in passenger cars and 73% more effective in passenger vans and sport-utility vehicles.