House Bill 373: Passenger Seat Belt Requirement – Primary Offense
Currently, the driver of a motor vehicle and a passenger in the outboard front seat (next to the passenger door) have to wear a seat belt. Their failure to wear a seatbelt is a primary offense. But if there is a passenger sitting in a middle front seat, there is no requirement to wear a seatbelt.
Passengers in the rear seats of a car who are age 16 or older must wear a seat belt, but violation of this provision is only a secondary offense.
My House Bill 373 remedies these loopholes by requiring seat belt usage in the passenger areas of a vehicle, front and rear, and making it all a primary offense.
Seat belt use is much more common than it used to be. However, many people still wrongly presume that wearing seat belts in the rear seats of vehicles is not necessary for safety. In the event of a car crash, unrestrained rear seat passengers become projectiles and pose significant risk not just to themselves, but to other passengers in the vehicle as well.
In Maryland, during the period 2010 – 2013, there were 123 rear-seat passenger fatalities; 60% of those individuals were unbelted. Unbelted rear seat passengers were 95% more likely to have moderate to severe injuries than rear seat passengers who were belted. Hopefully my House Bill 373 will reduce the number of injuries and fatalities from failure to wear a seat belt.