While most people are in the habit of buckling their seatbelts when riding in a car, not everyone does. Some people assume that you don’t have to wear a seatbelt if you’re a passenger in the back seat. This is not true.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 32 states have back seat belt requirements for passengers. 

Many people don’t wear seatbelts because they believe the back seat is safer or because the belt is uncomfortable for them. Comfort aside, it’s definitely not safe to ignore seatbelt laws. 

According to the Florida Safety Highway and Motor Vehicles Department, almost half of the people who died in car accidents in Hillsborough County in 2016 were not wearing their seatbelts.

Florida Seatbelt Laws

Seatbelts have been a requirement by law in Tampa, FL, since 2009. The law requires all people over the age of 18 to wear seatbelts when in a moving vehicle. Each person is required to wear the safety belt, regardless of whether they’re riding in the front seat or the back seat.

Children are also required to wear seatbelts if they are between the ages of six and seventeen. A child under the age of six must be restrained in an approved car seat or booster seat. Children five and under should not ride in the front seat.

Seatbelt Law Exceptions

There are several exceptions to the seatbelt laws in Florida. Most of these exceptions have to do with the type of vehicle being driven, but there are exceptions for children, as well.

Passengers who ride in a bus, for instance, are not required to wear seatbelts. Buses are generally not equipped with seatbelts.

School buses that were bought before the end of the year in 2000 are also not required to have passengers use seatbelts. This exception only applies if the bus was new at the time that it was purchased.

Other exceptions to seatbelt laws in Florida include:

  • Farm machinery and equipment
  • Large vehicles weighing more than 26,000 lbs
  • Newspaper delivery vehicles
  • Individuals with documented medical exemptions

A person who has a documented medical condition must carry paperwork with them whenever they are in a vehicle.

If a child aged four or five needs to be transported in an emergency or by a non-family member as a temporary favor, the booster seat requirement is waived. The child must be restrained by a normal seatbelt in these instances.

Are Backseat Seatbelts Safe?

Seatbelts are safer than using nothing at all, and those that combine lap and shoulder belts are considered to be the safest. 

While seatbelts help to protect drivers and passengers from a variety of injuries in a car crash, they can also potentially cause injuries, too. Seatbelt injuries range from scratches and bruises to broken bones

Other injuries include:

  • Internal organ damage
  • Broken ribs
  • Neck and spine injuries
  • Injuries to the heart or lungs
  • Shoulder injuries

These types of injuries can require immediate and long-term medical care. Even when you think you’ve only been bruised by the seat belt, it’s best to see a qualified physician.

Who Gets the Ticket for an Unbelted Passenger?

If you or a passenger in your vehicle choose not to wear a seatbelt, you’re at risk of receiving a traffic ticket. In Tampa, seatbelt violations are a primary offense, and they may come with stiff fines.

Each adult over 18 in the vehicle is responsible for their own compliance and can be ticketed individually when they are not wearing a seatbelt. If children 17 and younger are in the car, the driver will receive tickets for each of those violations. 

For more information, call us at (813) 222-8545 or reach out to us via email by visiting our contact us page.