Seat Belt Laws by State
It goes without saying that all drivers and passengers should buckle up each and every time they are in a car. Seat belt statistics show that wearing a seatbelt can save your life or reduce injury if you are involved in an car accident.
The United States has one of the lowest rates of seat belt usage in the developed world: only 75% of Americans buckle up. It's estimated that nearly one-third of all accident fatalities could be prevented if everyone wore a seat belt.
Individual states are encouraging the use of seat belts by passing laws that require their use. But the enforcement of seat belt laws tends to differ from state to state. Seat belt enforcements are typically either primary or secondary offenses.
- Primary Offense: not wearing a seat belt is cause enough for a driver to be pulled over and ticketed.
- Secondary Offense: a driver must be pulled over for another offense; however, if not wearing a seat belt, a driver can be ticketed for this offense as well.
- Please note that many states listed as having secondary seat belt laws have primary laws for younger drivers and passengers. Many states also have separate child passenger safety laws and car seat/booster seat laws.
Seat Belt Laws & Offense Level by State
District of Columbia: Primary
New Hampshire: no law for adults
New Jersey: Primary
New Mexico: Primary
New York: Primary
North Carolina: Primary
North Dakota: Secondary
Rhode Island: Primary
South Carolina: Primary
South Dakota: Secondary
West Virginia: Primary
Need more information on state laws? Learn more about the laws where you live.