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Unbelted backseat passengers a common danger during Palm Beach car accidents

Florida is among the states that do not require seat belts for all rear-seat passengers, according to an analysis by USA Today that examined passenger-safety initiatives in all 50 states.

Palm Beach car accidents frequently lead to serious or fatal injuries, whether or not a person was wearing their seat belt. And we have all heard stories of people who survived an accident because they were not belted. But seat belts save lives and the push to force back seat passengers to buckle up is gaining momentum across the country.

It comes as no real surprise that Florida is behind on the issue. As our West Palm Beach injury lawyers have reported, Florida is among the deadliest states in the nation and is one of a dwindling number that have no law against text messaging or use of a cell phone while behind the wheel.

Presently, half of all states permit backseat adult passengers to ride without buckling up. Six states — Texas, New Jersey, Minnesota, Louisiana, Kansas and Indiana — have enacted laws covering rear-seat passengers since 2007, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Twenty-five states now require seat belts for all passengers.

“The gaps with regard to children younger than 16 have almost all been closed, but there are still gaps for adults,” said the Institute’s Michele Fields.

Seat-belt use has been rising steadily for decades as states moved to primary enforcement — meaning a motorist can be stopped and ticketed for noncompliance, regardless of whether they are violating other traffic laws. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 84 percent of motorists nationwide are wearing their seat-belt — a rate that now stands at an all-time high.

The federal government estimates that seat belts saved 13,000 lives last year — compared to the 34,000 motorists who died in traffic accidents. Naturally, rear-seat seat-belt use is higher in states where the law requires it. But in some states, the difference in usage rates is substantial: Front-seat motorists in New Jersey have a usage rate of 93.7 percent, while those in the back wear their seat belts only 27 percent of the time.

It is a safety issue for everyone in the vehicle: Unbelted rear-seat passengers become projectiles in an accident, as they continue to travel the same speed the car was moving at the moment of impact. Frequently, this results in crushing front seat passengers between the seat and the dashboard or windshield.

Freeman & Mallard is a personal injury and wrongful death law firm dedicated to helping motorists who have been injured in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and the Port St. Lucie/Fort Pierce areas. Call today for a free consultation. 1-800-529-2368.

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