Passengers under age 8 must be secured in an appropriate child restraint system as covered by the Child Passenger Protection Act (see page 20).
When riding in a truck with only a front seat equipped with safety belts, a child under age 8 must be secured in an appropriate child restraint system.
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If a passenger has a disability or medical condition that makes him/her unable to
secure his/her own safety belt, the driver is responsible for securing and adjusting the
safety belt for that passenger.
It is the responsibility of the driver to ensure that ALL passengers obey the safety belt
law and the Child Passenger Protection Act. Anyone found guilty of disobeying this
law is subject to a fine and court costs.
Safety Belt Fitting
The lap belt should be worn across the hip bones and should never be positioned
across the stomach or soft part of the abdomen. The shoulder strap should be as snug
as possible yet allow the driver to reach important controls. Adjust the shoulder strap
so it is comfortable and does not cross the body at or near the neck or face.
Air Bag Safety
Airbags are designed to provide supplemental protection in combination with safety belts. Airbags are lifesaving devices, but special precautions should be taken when driving in airbag-equipped vehicles.
A distance of 10-12 inches between the driver and the airbag is desirable, especially for short, elderly, or pregnant drivers. Shorter drivers may use foot pedal extenders.
Passengers should position their seats as far back as possible, tilting the seat back slightly if necessary.
Children riding in the front seat can be seriously injured or killed when an airbag deploys in a crash. Therefore, it is recommended that children age 12 and younger be properly secured in the back seat.
If a child under age 8 must ride in the front passenger seat with an active airbag, he/she should be in a properly installed, appropriate forward-facing child safety seat with the seat as far back as possible.
Rear-facing child safety seats should be secured only in the back seat of a vehicle and should never be installed in front of an active airbag.
Child Passenger Protection Act
The Child Passenger Protection Act requires that all children under age 8 be properly
secured in an appropriate child safety restraint system.
This includes the use of booster seats, which must only be used with a lap/shoulder safety belt. If the back seat of the vehicle is not equipped with lap/shoulder type safety belts, a child weighing more than 40 pounds may be transported in the back seat without a booster seat, secured with a lap belt only.
Safety Belt Laws in the United States
Most seat belt laws in the United States are left to the states and territories.
The first seat belt law was the Motor Safety Standards, which is a federal law (Title 49 of the United States Code, Chapter 301) that took effect on January 1, 1968. It required all vehicles (except buses) to be fitted with seat belts in all designated seating positions.
Since then, this law has been modified to require three-point seat belts in outboard-seating positions. And finally three-point seat belts in all seating positions.
Initially, seat belt use was voluntary. But on December 1, 1984, New York became the first state to pass a law that required vehicle occupants to wear seat belts.
Currently, New Hampshire is the only state that has no enforceable laws for the wearing of seat belts in a vehicle.
Primary and secondary enforcement
U.S. seat belt laws may be subject to primary or secondary enforcement.
When we say primary enforcement, a law enforcement officer may pull over and issue a ticket to a driver if they observe a violation.
Meanwhile, secondary enforcement means that an officer can only cite a seat belt violation to a driver if he or she committed another primary violation.
Out of the 50 states, only 15 now consider the seatbelt law as a secondary offense. This includes Colorado. But in this state, if children are not properly restrained, it is considered as a primary offense, which also means a heftier fine.
Most states had considered seatbelt law as a secondary offense before but later changed it to a primary offense. California was the first state to comply with this change in 1993.