A dangerous loophole in New Jersey's primary seat belt law has been closed! On January 18, 2010 legislation was signed into law requiring all adult back seat passengers 18 years of age and older to buckle up when riding in a motor vehicle. While violation of this lifesaving requirement is a secondary offense (a ticket may only be issued to the unbuckled adult passenger when the driver of the vehicle has committed some other motor vehicle violation), the New Jersey Child Passenger Safety Coalition urges all adults in the back seat to buckle up every ride.

In the event of a crash, unbelted back seat passengers become bullets, putting not only themselves, but everyone in the vehicle at risk. That's because unbelted back seat passengers continue to move at the same rate of speed as the vehicle they are riding in until they hit something -- the seat back, the dashboard, the windshield, the driver or another passenger. It's also not uncommon for unbelted passengers to be thrown from a vehicle and either crushed by that vehicle or another on the road.

Since 2000, when the state's primary seat belt law* went into effect, 272 unbelted backseat passengers have died in traffic crashes. Last year, 73% of back seat passengers killed in traffic crashes in New Jersey were unbelted. Wearing a seat belt, regardless of seating position, is the simplest way to protect yourself when riding in a motor vehicle. A seat belt increases your chances of surviving a crash by as much as 75%.

According to a statewide observational survey of back seat passengers conducted by the New Jersey Institute of Technology in June 2010, only 27% of adults are currently using seat belts when riding in the back seat.  In addition, the number of children and teens between the ages of eight and 18 buckling up in the back seat currently stands at 37%.  Meanwhile, front seat belt use is at an all-time high in our state – 93.73%.  The Coalition's goal is to achieve 100% belt usage by all occupants in all seating positions.  So please make proper restraint of all vehicle occupants your top priority.  Buckle up, everyone, every ride!

*The vehicle driver and front seat occupants as well as all passengers under 18 years of age must be properly restrained in a car or booster seat, or seat belt.