"Click It or Ticket" Seat Belt Laws

Not only do teens have a lower seat belt use rate than adults they also have the tendency to improperly wear the restraints. It is still a violation of law if the seat belt is improperly worn (e.g. under the arm instead of over the shoulder). Teens that typically wear their belts when either driving themselves or riding as a passenger with their parents also have the tendency to not wear their seat belts with the same frequency when riding with friends.

We know that teens are at a high risk of crashing, especially in their 1st year of driving. Because of this making sure every occupant in the vehicle is buckled up is vitally important. Remind your teens (both drivers and those who ride as passengers) that it is very easy for an officer to spot someone who is not wearing a seat belt. And yes, they can pull them over (and adults for that matter) just for not wearing a seat belt.

Seat Belt Laws

The basic seat belt law (CVC 27315) requires driver and all passengers 16 years of age or older to wear a seat belt. Both the driver and passengers can be cited. Drivers can also be cited for a passenger not wearing a seat belt even if the driver is wearing one. This violation is an infraction with the fine starting at about $65 can increase with subsequent violations.

One of the best ways that parents can encourage their teens (and all aged children for that matter) is by making sure that they always wear seat belts themselves. Indications are seat belt use rates are higher in teens when their parents are habitual restraint users.

Improper Position

Another problem more common with teens is riding in an improper seat position. Some teens recline their seats while operating the vehicle in spite of the vehicle owner's manual requirement that the seat are placed in an upright position while the vehicle is in motion.

When the seat is reclined the occupant can "submarine" under the belt, causing severe injury. Teens sometime ride 2-to-a-belt, another dangerous act that can result in serious internal injuries. With more vehicles being equipped with side-impact air bags riding in the proper position is becoming even more important.