Seat Belt Laws


Washington State Law (RCW 46.61.688) requires

  • Every person 16 years or older operating or riding in a motor vehicle shall wear the safety belt assembly in a properly adjusted and securely fastened manner.

  • No person may operate a motor vehicle unless all children passengers under the age 16 are either wearing a safety belt or are securely fastened in an approved child restraint device.
Washington drivers can be pulled over for not wearing their seat-belt.  Our 2002 State law allows law enforcement to issue a seat belt ticket when there was no citable offense.
  • People are just as likely to be killed or injured in the back seat if they are not wearing a seat-belt, as they are in the front seat. 

  • Seat belts save lives.  Seat belt laws save lives.  When you enforce seat belt laws, they even save more lives. 

  • In 2013, 55% of passengers killed in crashes were not wearing seat belts.  Only 28 states require people in the back seat to buckle up. 

  • Older vehicles do not have side air bags for protection.  The only protection for those passengers is a seat-belt.

Unbuckled Rear Passengers put lives in danger.  The Dept. of Transportation data shows that
  • More than 1 in 5 back seat driver passengers do not buckle up.  In a taxi cab, the numbers are much worse.

  • People who are not wearing their seat belts are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle in a crash.

  • In fatal accidents where people are ejected, 3 out of 4 times, those people die.

  • Research suggests that states with strict seat-belt laws drop the number of deaths by 17%.

  • The NYC Taxi Commission found in 2014 that only 38% of cab riders wore seat belts.
    (Source) "Seat Belts," reporter Kris Van Cleave, CBS This Morning News, June 24, 2015)

School Bus Seat-belts
  • As many as 8,000 children are hurt every year in school bus accidents.  From 2003 - 2012, 174 children in the U.S. died in crashes involving school buses: 55 were school bus passengers, and 119 were pedestrians. 

    NHTSA now calls for every child to have a seat-belt on a school bus; however, they are not requiring seat-belts on the buses.  Only 6 states require seat belts on school buses; but Washington is not one of them.

    "...seat belts save lives.  That is true whether in a passenger car or in a big yellow bus...Is this a change in position?  Yes...school buses should have seat-belts.  Period," stated Mark Rosekind, NHTSA Administrator.   (Source:  "Time to Buckle Up.  NHTSA Chief:  School buses should have seat belts," CBS Morning and Evening News, November 9, 2015)