A crazy taxi ride seems like the one place you’d especially want to buckle up.
The vast majority of front-seat passengers in the United States use their seat belts, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The most recent survey of nearly 1,200 adults last year showed 91 percent consistently buckled up when sitting in the front, but only 72 percent did the same in back. Furthermore, of those who didn’t use rear seat belts consistently, four out of five said they didn’t bother belting up in taxis, Ubers, or other ride-hailing services. For that fact, they generally didn’t use rear seat belts for any short trip, whether it was via taxi or in a friend’s Chevy.
"For most adults, it's still as safe to ride in the back seat as the front seat, but not if you aren't buckled up," says Jessica Jermakian, an IIHS senior research engineer who co-authored a study on rear seat belt usage. "That applies to riding in an Uber, Lyft or other hired vehicle, too."
According to the study, the main reason for this lack of rear seat belt use is a misconception that rear seat passengers are safer. In the days of larger cars without crumple zones and mandatory seat belt usage, such placement did in fact have its advantages. With modern cars, however, safety between front and rear seats is equal. Furthermore, failure to buckle up in back could not only result in personal injuries, but injuries to front-seat passengers as you go sailing into them during a crash.
“People who don't use safety belts might think their neglect won't hurt anyone else. That's not the case," Jermakian says. "In the rear seat a lap/shoulder belt is the primary means of protection in a frontal crash. Without it, bodies can hit hard surfaces or other people at full speed, leading to serious injuries," she says.
All states except for New Hampshire have seat belt laws for front seats, but only 29 states and the District of Columbia have laws for rear-seat occupants. Most survey takers said that if there was a law mandating rear seat belt usage, they would comply.
Let’s just make it simple: buckle up people.