Teens and Seat Belts | Shelter Insurance®

Why Aren't Teens Buckling Up?


You've heard it before—seat belts save lives. You may have seen statistics that prove that statement, but what you may not know is, according to the NHTSA, seat belt use is lowest among teen drivers. In fact, the majority of teenagers involved in fatal crashes were not wearing seat belts. In 2015, a total of 769 teen (15- to 18-year-old) drivers and 531 passengers died in passenger vehicles driven by other teens, and 58 percent of the passengers were NOT wearing their seat belts at the time of the accident. But why?

Teens in a 2014 study conducted by Safe Kids Worldwide reported they forget, it's not a habit, they don't wear if it they aren't going far, seat belts are uncomfortable, they wrinkle your clothes, nobody else is doing it or they think they are likely to be harmful in an accident. Passengers say they are uncomfortable with a seat belt on if they are trying to sleep, or there aren't enough seat belts in the vehicle. Although teens might not report this, they tend to feel invincible and think "that won't happen to me" when they hear about other accidents where teens who didn't wear seat belts in an accident were hurt or even killed. Some might not wear a seat belt because they have been buckled in their whole lives, and not wearing a seat belt is a way to exert their independence. Adults know these "reasons" aren't justifiable when it comes to something that can be a real life saver.

Buckle Up, Buttercup!
As a parent, what can you do to convince your kids to wear their seat belt? For one thing, make sure you're setting a good example—always wear your seat belt. They don't just save the lives of teens, they save everyone's lives. Also, since many states have laws that require drivers to wear seat belts, remind them they could get a ticket if they are stopped.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety suggests that the following measures taken by law enforcement, car manufacturers and parents could also help:

  • Strengthening existing seat belt laws
  • Enhancing seat belt reminders in vehicles
  • High visibility of law enforcement near schools and other popular locations for teens
  • Stronger seat belt component of graduated driver's license laws, such as delaying full  licensure if there's a seat belt citation
  • Stronger parental oversight mechanisms, including in-vehicle monitoring devices

There's only so much any of us can do to encourage teens to use their seat belts, but these measures might at least make them stop and consider it. 

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