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Seatbelt warning systems will spread to back seat

Safety regulators are working on new requirements for seatbelt warning systems. Currently only driver's seats are required to be equipped with an alert system to tell the person to buckle up when the car is in motion. A new transportation bill passed by Congress would increase those systems to functioning in other seats, including those in the back.

Officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration say that they are still evaluating the specifics of the systems and the requirements.

In fact, current government regulations don't require the warning for the front seat passenger either. Increasing the requirement for all people riding in the car would likely have significant safety benefits, since we already know that wearing a seatbelt can dramatically change the outcome in the event of a serious car accident.

Adding the warning system would put one more encouragement in place for drivers and passengers to use seatbelts habitually. It's surprising that they don't already, since laws in Michigan and around the country require seatbelt use. In Michigan, police can initiate a traffic stop solely to enforce seatbelt laws.

Still, backseat passengers are the most likely to go without a seatbelt, exposing themselves to harm and increasing the risk of injury or death to front seat passengers by 40 percent. A recent study showed that teens fail to wear a seatbelt 20 percent of the time, which has serious and often fatal results. Over half of teens involved in fatal car accidents were unbuckled, according to a 2009 study.

Source: Washington Post, "Seat Belt Reminders Could Come to Backseat" August 2, 2012.

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