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North Carolina Advocates for Child Safety Give Up Fight for Improved Seat Belt Laws

December 10, 2020

According to an online news report published on WRAL.COM, in North Carolina, the Child Fatality Task Force stated that they would no longer ask North Carolina lawmakers to enact stricter seat belt laws in 2021.  The child safety advocates assert the General Assembly has disregarded all other past pleas to update North Carolina seat belt laws.  The Child Fatality Task Force has been lobbying the state's lawmakers to increase the penalties "for drivers whose back seat passengers aren't buckled up."

According to accident statistics collected by the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles, unrestrained back seat passengers receive more fatal injuries or sustain more injuries than passengers riding in the front seats.  Unrestrained rear seat passengers become dangerous projectiles in motor vehicle accidents.  This presents a serious danger to all occupants inside the motor vehicle.  In many cases, an unrestrained back seat passenger will be ejected from the car leading to severe injuries and, in many cases, fatal injuries.  Unrestrained passengers riding in the back seat increase the risk that the driver and front-seat passenger will die in an accident.

The North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force statistics note that over 42,200 children, ages 12 and under, were injured or killed in accidents in North Carolina from 2015 and 2019.  Approximately 30% of the children who were killed in a motor vehicle accident in North Carolina were unrestrained.  In addition, 621 children sustained severe injuries because they were unrestrained. 

North Carolina state law requires all occupants in a motor vehicle to be restrained by the appropriate safety restraint- seat belts, car seats, or booster seats.  The fine for violating the state's seat belt laws is only $10 per passenger 16 years of age or older and $25 plus two points added to the driver's license if the unrestrained passenger(s) are under 16.  Also, North Carolina state laws do not grant law enforcement the authority to pull drivers and cite the driver for seat belt violations.  

The Child Fatality Task Force has worked for more than four years to persuade North Carolina lawmakers to increase seat belt violation penalties. 

According to the news report, these changes to North Carolina's set belt laws could save 10 to 30 lives a year and cut $100 million in accident-related costs.  These results were generated by Daniel Findley, who is North Carolina State University's director of the Institute for Transportation Research and Education.

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Category: Accident News

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