How many times have you climbed into the backseat of a friend's car or rideshare and never buckled up for the drive? Plenty of Kentucky residents -- as well as those in other states -- have done so multiple times.
However, doing so puts you at risk of becoming a missile if the driver is involved in a wreck. What's more, unbuckled backseat passengers pose risk of injury or death to those riding up front.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in an accident, the passengers in the back who are not wearing seat belts can hit the front seat hard enough to shove the driver into the steering wheel, detonating the airbag and causing serious or fatal injuries.
For that to occur, the driver only has to be going 35 mph.
The frequency of this omission increases when the backseat passengers are clients of ridesharing services, e.g., Lyft or Uber, said the co-author of the IIHS research. Data indicates that 1,018 unbelted backseat passengers were killed in accidents during 2015.
Aug. 31 marks the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana's death, perhaps the world's most famous backseat fatality ever. Another, more recent, backseat passenger death involved CBS newscaster Bob Simon only two years ago.
IIHS senior researcher noted that it was a myth that unbelted backseat passengers are safer in collisions than those riding up front. After all, " the laws of physics" still apply no matter where the occupants are sitting.
A 2016 IIHS survey of 1,172 riders determined that just 72 percent of those responding stated they always wore seat belts while riding in the rear seats. Alternatively, 91 percent claimed to wear proper restraints every time they rode up front.
Those in the age demographic of 35-54 reported they were the least likely passengers to wear seat belts in the rear seat. Just 66 percent of those in the above age brackets said they "always" wore seat belts while riding in the rear. Conversely, 73 percent of those 18 to 34 reported buckling up for each ride.
If you are injured while a backseat passenger in a vehicle -- whether belted in or not -- it's always wise to learn your legal rights regarding seeking compensation.
Source: USA TODAY, "Unbuckled in the back seat? You'll become a human missile in a crash," Sophia Tulp, Aug. 03, 2017