While seatbelts aren’t always the most comfortable, they significantly reduce the risk of serious injury and death in the event of an accident. It’s important to recognize that vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death in the first three decades of life in the United States. If a person decides to forgo their seatbelt and ends up in an accident, the consequences can be devastating.
Even though most drivers and passengers in the U.S. wear a seatbelt while in a moving vehicle, there are still millions who do not. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 83 percent of Mississippi drivers wear a seatbelt. That is three percent lower than the national average. This is why Mississippi has established seat belt laws that define what is and is not allowed while riding in a car, truck, or another vehicle.
Why Seat Belt Use Is So Crucial
The CDC also tells us that seat belts reduce the chance of sustaining fatal injuries in a car accident by 50 percent. This is a huge number. There are a variety of other benefits associated with wearing a seat belt, as well. Seat belts are designed to work with the airbags in your vehicles to protect you in the event of a crash. You’ll stay in place during the impact and the airbags will absorb help to absorb extra force.
In addition to the physical advantages of a seat belt, you’ll keep your insurance rates down if you refrain from getting ticketed for not wearing your safety belt.
Mississippi Seat Belt Laws
The seat belt laws for the state of Mississippi were amended in 2017 and were passed under Senate Bill 2724 on July 1, 2017. According to the bill, also known as “Harlie’s Law:”
- When a passenger vehicle is being driven on a public road, street, or highway every operator, and passenger must wear a properly fastened safety belt, which should have been installed in the vehicle when it was manufactured in accordance with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
- A child passenger, depending on height and weight, may be required to be protected by the use of a child passenger restraint device (i.e. a car seat) or a belt-positioning booster seat.
- A passenger vehicle is something designed to carry 15 or fewer passengers, including the driver, but does not include motorcycles, mopeds, all-terrain vehicles, or trailers.
- The seat belt law above does not apply to vehicles registered for farm use, drivers or passengers who have written verification from a licensed doctor that states they are unable to wear a seat belt for a medical reason, rural letter carriers of the United States postal services or utility meter readers while on duty, or buses.
- A violation of this law will result in a misdemeanor, which is punishable with a $25 fine.
Car Seat Safety
The Mississippi State Department of Health provides a variety of resources for parents and guardians who transport small children. There are special restraint seats designed to protect these young passengers in the event of an accident.
- Rear-facing only/convertible seats. All infants and toddlers should ride in rear-facing seats until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the car seat’s manufacturer. These seats are often usable for two years or longer.
- Forward-facing seats with harness. Once a child has outgrown their rear-facing car seat, they should be able to use a forward-facing one. The same standards apply to wait to change seats until they are at the proper height or weight.
- Booster seats. Once a child has grown out of a forward-facing seat, they will still not be tall enough to be properly protected by a seat belt, which is where a belt-positioning booster seat comes in. These are typically used until the child reaches 4 feet 9 inches.
It’s important to remember children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat of any vehicle. Children should never ride on laps, in cargo areas, or in the beds of pickup trucks. Be sure to stay aware of any notices from your car seat manufacturer and read the owner’s manual, so you know for sure you’re installing the seat correctly.
Even when we wear out seat belts, crashes can happen. If you’ve been injured in a wreck, our Mississippi car accident lawyer is prepared to represent you. At Corban Gunn, we have the experience and drive needed to ensure you are compensated for what you’ve been through, so you don’t have to worry about piling medical expenses, future medical care, lost wages, and property damage. Contact our office for more information on your legal rights and options. We’ll help you decide what steps to take next.