NHTSA Proposing New Seat Belt Rules

NHTSA New Seat Belt RulesThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has long been at the forefront of initiatives aimed at minimizing road accidents and their potentially catastrophic consequences. One crucial element in this ongoing battle for safer roads is the use of seat belts.

The NHTSA’s new proposed seat belt rules take a significant step forward in enhancing passenger safety and reducing the toll of road accidents. Right now, the current seat belt rules include having audio and visual signals if the driver is not buckled up, but nothing for other passengers. The new rules include safety features for everyone in the car.

Seat belts have saved countless lives by preventing occupants from being ejected from vehicles during collisions, minimizing the impact forces on the body, and enabling airbags to work effectively. Unfortunately, not everyone follows the rules. In 2021, at least 26,325 people were killed in car accidents—and at least 50% of them were not wearing their seat belts.

What are the new seat belt rules?

The proposed rules from the NHTSA show that they are really serious about making sure seat belts are not only something the driver should use, but something that everyone in the car must use together in an effort to be safe.

Visual and audio warnings for the right front passenger seat

Under the new rules, not only the driver but also the right front passenger seat would be equipped with both visual and audio warnings if seat belts are not fastened. This additional safety feature ensures that both front-seat occupants are reminded to buckle up, reducing the risk of injury in the event of a crash.

Continuation until both front seats are buckled

The proposed rules go beyond mere reminders. They mandate that the visual and audio warnings for the right front passenger seat continue until both the driver and front passenger have their seat belts securely fastened. This ensures that no one in the front seats can ignore the alerts.

Visual notice for rear seats

In the interest of those in the backseat, the new rules require vehicles to also provide a visual notice regarding rear seat belt usage. This notice will be displayed for at least 60 seconds when the vehicle is started, reinforcing the importance of compliance.

Audio warning for unbuckled rear seat belts

Additionally, the proposed regulations introduce an audio warning if a rear seat belt is unbuckled while the vehicle is in operation. This real-time alert encourages those in the backseat to fasten their seat belts promptly, reducing the chances of injury during a sudden stop or collision.

Oklahoma’s seat belt laws

Oklahoma has specific seat belt laws, and non-compliance can result in penalties. These laws are in place to ensure the safety of all vehicle occupants and to encourage responsible road behavior.

  • Primary enforcement for front-seat occupants: Oklahoma enforces a primary seat belt law for all front-seat occupants. This means that law enforcement officers can stop and ticket drivers solely for not wearing their seatbelts.
  • Secondary enforcement for rear-seat occupants: Rear-seat passengers in Oklahoma are subject to a secondary seat belt law. This means that while officers cannot pull over a vehicle solely for rear-seat passengers not wearing seatbelts, they can issue tickets if the vehicle is stopped for another violation and rear-seat occupants are not properly secured.

Car seat and booster seat laws for children

The state also has strict laws surrounding infant and child safety in motor vehicles. According to Oklahoma Highway Safety guidelines, the regulations for car seats and booster seats are:

  • Infants aged 0-2 years should be placed in rear-facing car seats.
  • Children aged 2-4 years should use car seats until they reach the age of 4.
  • For children aged 4-8 years, it is required to use either a car seat or a booster seat until they are either 8 years old or taller than 4’9″.

Penalties for violating seat belt laws typically include fines, which can also apply to front-seat passengers if they are not properly secured.

Oklahoma residents are buckling up less

Despite all the rules and regulations in place, it’s becoming more and more common for Oklahoma residents to ignore them. In a 2022 state-wide survey, 80% of the nearly 13,000 drivers were found to have been wearing their seat belts. While this seems like a high number, it’s actually lower than previous surveys that ranged from 83.6% to 86.9%. This downward trend could result in dangerous outcomes.

Seat belts serve as a critical line of defense on our roads, significantly reducing the risk of injury and saving countless lives. Thankfully, NHTSA is working to expand seat belt safety guidelines, which will only emphasize their importance to passenger safety. By ensuring that everyone in the car is properly secured, we’ll all have more peace of mind on the road. If you have any questions or concerns about seat belt safety, don’t hesitate to contact the car accident attorneys at Biby Law Firm for guidance and support. Your safety and the safety of your loved ones are important, and the right information and legal assistance can make all the difference. Call our office or fill out our contact form to schedule your free case review at one of our Tulsa offices today.