As of 2012, Indiana law requires all passengers in motor vehicles to buckle up or face ticketing and fines – even when riding in the back seat. Previously, passengers in the back seat of a vehicle were not required to wear seat belts in Indiana.

The importance of seat belt use for all passengers was underscored recently by a string of fatal car accidents in Indiana, including one in February that killed a 4-year-old child and seriously injured a 14-year-old.

Seat Belt Use Cuts Risk of Injury in Half

When car accidents occur, seat belts are more effective at preventing injury and death than any other traffic safety device, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A person can reduce the risk of being injured in a crash by 50 percent simply by wearing a seat belt. Nearly half of all people killed in car accidents in Indiana in 2010 were not wearing seat belts, according to police data.

While many people mistakenly believe that seat belts are unnecessary for passengers in the back seat, the truth is that people in the back seat put themselves and others at risk when they neglect to buckle up. In the event of an accident, unbuckled back-seat passengers can be thrown from their seats, risking injury to themselves as well as the driver and other passengers.

Police Can Now Ticket for Seat Belts Alone

Unlike the seat belt laws in a number of other states, Indiana has a primary-enforcement seat belt law, meaning that police officers may stop a vehicle solely on the basis of a seat belt violation. According to the National Safety Council, states that allow primary enforcement of seat belt laws have substantially higher rates of seat belt use than states that allow officers to issue tickets for seat belt violations only after they have stopped a vehicle for another reason.

People who have been injured in a car accident in Indiana should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn more about seeking potential compensation for medical costs, rehabilitation and lost income.