— Rear seat belt reminder systems are more important today than ever before even though vehicle safety technology has never been greater.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, more than 800 rear seat passengers who were not wearing seat belts were killed in crashes in 2018.
Federal data were studied for occupants 8 years old and older, and the Safety Association found that more than 400 of those rear seat occupants would likely have survived if seat belts had been worn.
Due to the exponential use of ride-hailing vehicles, safety advocates are concerned about seat belt usage for consumers riding in the back of a private vehicle. There isn't a tremendous amount of research available, but current estimates show less than 60% of passengers in hired vehicles always wear their seat belts.
In addition to rear seat belt reminders, the Governors Highway Safety Association recommends for-hire vehicle operators promote the use of rear seat belts to their customers.
Additionally, NHTSA should do its job and finalize federal standards concerning rear seat belt reminder systems, and every state should create strong laws based on required seat belt use for all occupants. To date, 31 states still don't have rear belt use laws for adult passengers.
Statistics indicate rear seat belt usage reduces the risk of being killed by 55% in passenger cars, but the risk drops by 74% for rear seat passengers wearing their seat belts in light trucks and vans.
According to a lawsuit filed against the government by two consumer groups in 2017, unbelted rear seat passengers are about eight times more likely to suffer serious injuries compared to those wearing their belts. And in 2014, 58% of rear seat passengers who were killed in crashes were not wearing seat belts.
The lawsuit says safety standards for rear seat belt reminder systems should have been issued by October 2015, but the deadline has been ignored to the detriment of rear seat passengers.
Based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 13% of model year 2019 vehicles sold in the U.S. came equipped with rear seat belt reminder warning systems. Automakers which offered vehicles equipped with the reminder systems include Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Toyota and Volvo.
All the systems use displays visible to the drivers and indicate which rear seat belts are in use. In addition, the reminder systems are equipped with change-of-status reminders that have visual and audible warnings.
Check out seat belt laws for your state in this PDF.