In an earlier post, we answered five common questions about seatbelts. We got such a good response that we’ve answered more commonly asked questions here:
It’s a fact: more than 2.3 million motor vehicle drivers and passengers went to emergency rooms nationwide for injuries sustained in vehicle accidents in 2014. Did you know that the proven, most effective method to prevent or reduce injuries during an automobile crash is to wear your seatbelt? Every time you get into a car or truck, buckle up. It could save your life.
In Virginia, only 78% of the population routinely wear seatbelts according to the most recent data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control. That’s 22% of Virginians who are risking their lives each time they get into a motor vehicle.
As Richmond car accident attorneys, we see first-hand the importance of seatbelt use. Here are five frequently asked questions about seatbelt requirements:
1. As the driver, if a passenger under age 18 riding in my vehicle fails to wear their seatbelt, could I get a ticket? In Virginia, the law states that everyone under age 18 must be properly secured with a buckled seatbelt or in a child safety seat no matter where they are sitting in the car – either the front or back seat. As the vehicle driver, you are solely responsible for ensuring that every minor passenger is properly restrained with a lap belt and shoulder sash or in a child safety seat.
2. What if an adult passenger riding in my vehicle fails to wear their seatbelt; could I get a ticket? For adults ages 18 and older, the law states that all passengers in the front seat of a vehicle must be restrained properly. Front-seat passengers ages 16 and older who aren’t wearing seatbelts can be ticketed. While it’s legal for back-seat adult passengers to ride without a seatbelt secured, why risk it? As car accident lawyers in Richmond, Va., we often encounter back-seat passengers who have suffered injuries. The safest bet is to buckle up, every time.
3. Can a police officer pull me over for not wearing my seatbelt? Virginia’s seatbelt law is classified as a secondary law, meaning that an officer can’t pull you over for the sole reason of not wearing the proper safety restraints. However, if you are pulled over for another violation and found to be not wearing your seatbelt, you and any other front-seat passengers in the vehicle who are age 16 and older and aren’t wearing their seatbelts can be issued a ticket for a seatbelt violation also.
4. How much does a seatbelt violation cost? The penalty for violating Virginia’s seatbelt law is $25 each for drivers and front-seat passengers who are ages 16 and older. For child car seat violations, the penalty is $50. While this monetary penalty isn’t extremely steep, the real value in obeying the seatbelt law is to protect yourself, your passengers and children by being safely restrained in case of a motor vehicle accident.
5. I’ve heard that insurance companies won’t cover injuries from car accidents where seatbelts weren’t worn – is that true? In some cases, it’s true. Some insurance companies won’t cover injuries resulting from a motor vehicle accident where the person wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. In addition, some life insurance companies won’t pay full benefits if their policyholder wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and died from injuries sustained in an automobile accident. Check with your insurance company to verify the specific details of your policy. But let us reiterate: the easiest thing to do is to wear your seatbelt every time you are in the car. It takes only seconds to buckle a seatbelt, but it’s one of the most important things you do each day.