Taking an Uber? Make sure you buckle up

Many people feel safe getting into the back seat of a ride-hailing vehicle, such as an Uber or a Lyft, and not fastening their seat belt despite laws mandating their use.

However, the California Office of Traffic Safety says while half of all front-seat occupants killed in crashes are unrestrained, 61% of those who die while sitting in the back seat are not wearing a seat belt.

Your chance of being killed increases in the back seat

A 2016 study by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found unrestrained back-seat passengers are eight times more likely to suffer a serious injury than those wearing seat belts.

The Governors Highway Safety Association says in 2018, 803 rear passengers over the age of eight, who did not buckle up, died in crashes. The group says more than half would have survived if they had worn a seat belt.

Study shows age and gender gaps over seat belt use

The IIHS survey shows that women are more likely to fasten their seat belts when riding in the back seat compared to men, while prime-age adults are least likely to buckle up. The results look like this:

  • 66% of people ages 35 to 54 say they use seat belts in the back seat
  • 76% of those 55 and older report always using a seat belt when riding in the back
  • 73% of adults ages 18 to 34 say they use their seat belt in the back seat

Ride-hailing brings new concerns over safety

Perhaps even more disturbing are driver attitudes over safety when they take a Lyft or Uber compared to when riding in personal vehicles. The IIHS says 74% reported using seat belts in the rear seat of a personal vehicle, while only 57% say they belt themselves in when using a ride-hailing car.

Thousands remain at risk

California’s “Click It or Ticket” law is credited with driving seat belt use to a record high of 97.4% in 2014. The Golden State is one of a few that mandates that all occupants in a vehicle must be restrained. Still, state officials say more than half a million drivers and passengers remain at risk by not buckling up.

The minimum cost of a seat belt violation in California is $162, and both drivers and passengers can receive a ticket. Drivers can also face additional fines for an unrestrained passenger, even if the driver is wearing a seat belt.