Buckle your seat belt! Following this timeless piece of advice is the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself and others riding in your car in the event of a crash.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, wearing a seat belt is the most effective way to reduce the risk of serious injuries in motor vehicle wrecks. For adult passengers, seat belts reduce the risk of death by 45%.
Seat Belts and the Law
Seat belt use is not just about making a choice for personal safety; it is also the law.
Alabama Seat Belt Law to Know: Alabama Code § 32-5B-4
What It Says:
This Alabama law is all about seat belts and who needs to wear them.
Who Needs a Seat Belt in Alabama?
- Short answer: Everyone riding in a car needs a seat belt.
- Front seat passengers: Alabama law requires people in the front seat to wear a properly fastened safety belt at all times when a car is moving.
- Rear seat passengers: Alabama law also requires back seat passengers to wear a properly fastened safety belt while an automobile is in motion.
- Children: Alabama law also requires children to wear the proper restraints (like a booster seat or car seat)
What happens if you break the Alabama seat belt law?
If you are not wearing your seat belt, then you could be stopped by law enforcement. What happens will depend on where you are sitting in the automobile.
- Front seat occupants without seat belts: The police can write you a ticket.
- Rear seat occupants without seat belts: The police will only give you a ticket if you have done something else illegal.
Why Car Seats Are Essential
It is important to use special care when driving with infants and children in a car. Studies show that car seats and booster seats reduce the risk of death by 54% for toddlers and 71% for infants.
Adults should set a good example by buckling up themselves. They should also make sure that any children riding along are properly secured in the best car seat, booster seat, or with a seat belt.
What Kind of Restraint Does My Child Need?
Alabama child restraint laws require specific kinds of car or booster seats based on your child’s age and weight.
Here is what the Alabama booster seat law requires:
- Children from birth to age 1 | weight of 20 pounds: infant-only car seat or a convertible seat used in the rear-facing position.
- Children ages 1 to 5 years old | 20 – 40 pounds: infant-only car seat or convertible seats must be used. These can be forward or rear-facing.
- Children ages 5 to 6 | 40 pounds: booster seats must be used.
- Age 6 to 15: shoulder belts must be used.
Seat Belts and Car Wrecks
What does it mean if you are in a motor vehicle crash and you weren’t wearing a seat belt?
According to Alabama Code § 32-5B-7, the fact that a person was not wearing a seat belt cannot be used against them as proof of negligence in a personal injury case.
In other words, an insurance company cannot deny responsibility for your injuries in a car crash just because you didn’t have on a seat belt.
If you have questions about seat belt use or appropriate child safety seats, you need to speak with a lawyer who understands these special rules. At Siniard, Timberlake & League, P.C., our lawyers are experienced and knowledgeable about these issues. Contact us, we can help.