Stephen Hasner | Georgia Law | May 12, 2022
Georgia has a mandatory seat belt law for all drivers and passengers in the front seat. But this law does not cover the backseat except for certain passengers.
Learn which passengers must wear a seat belt in the backseat and whether this can affect an injury claim.
Georgia’s Seat Belt and Child Seat Laws
To fully understand who must wear a seat belt in the backseat, you must look at both the seat belt and child seat laws in Georgia.
Child Seat Law
Georgia’s child seat law applies to children until they reach seven years old. Children must ride in the backseat unless other children already occupy the backseat or the vehicle does not have a backseat. For example, a child can ride in the front seat of a pickup truck if it does not have an extended cab with a backseat.
Georgia specifies that a child must ride in a safety seat appropriate to the child’s age and size. The state recommends that children ride in a rear-facing seat until their second birthday. They can then ride in a front-facing seat with a five-point harness until they weigh 40 pounds.
At that point, they can switch to a booster until their eighth birthday or until they reach 4′9″ in height. When children ride in a booster seat, they will use the vehicle’s seat belt. The booster lifts the child up high enough that the seat belt rests across their chest rather than their neck.
So, according to Georgia law, backseat passengers under the age of eight years old must wear a seat belt or sit in a car seat.
Seat Belt Law
Once a child reaches eight years old, the child can ride without a booster. But children must still wear a seat belt until their eighteenth birthday. This law applies regardless of where the child sits.
Thus, backseat passengers under the age of eighteen years old must wear a seat belt. But once someone reaches their eighteenth birthday, Georgia law allows them to ride in the back seat without a seat belt.
Georgia permits primary enforcement of its seat belt law. This differs from some states that allow the police to cite you for a seat belt violation only when you get pulled over for another traffic infraction. In Georgia, a police officer can stop you and cite you even if your only infraction is a seat belt violation.
To sum up, passengers in the backseat must:
- Ride in a car seat or booster seat until age eight
- Wear a seat belt between eight and eighteen
Passengers 18 and older do not need to wear a seat belt when in the backseat. But you should still ask your backseat passengers to wear a seat belt.
Backseat Seat Belt Safety Statistics
In a car accident, your body wants to keep moving in the same direction and speed as it was before your collision.
If you get hit in the front half of your car, the impact will immediately stop your car. But you will keep moving forward until you hit something. If you get hit from the side, your body will keep moving forward in a straight line as your car gets pushed sideward.
Seat belts and airbags to stop your body before you hit something that could injure you. The roof, dashboard, steering wheel, door, and door post can cause severe injuries if you hit them.
Worse yet, you could get ejected through the windshield or side windows without a seat belt. Accident victims who wear a seat belt are 30 times less likely to get ejected during a car crash.
Overall, backseat passengers who wear a seat belt reduce their chances of dying in a car accident by 55-75%. The reduction in injuries and deaths justifies wearing a seat belt in the backseat, even for those 18 and over.
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