Nine Facts About Teen Seat Belt Use

Teen Seat Belt Use Fact #1

In 2018, approximately 44% of teen drivers who died in crashes were not wearing their seat belts and 52% of teen passengers who died in crashes were not wearing seat belts. [1]

Teen Seat Belt Use Fact #2

Seat belt use is lowest among teen drivers. [2]

Teen Seat Belt Use Fact #3

9% of the young drivers involved in fatal passenger vehicle crashes who had been drinking were not wearing a safety belt. [3]

Teen Seat Belt Use Fact #4

Only 51% of High School students report to always wearing a seat belt. [4]

Teen Seat Belt Use Fact #5

Teen drivers with involved parents are twice as likely to wear seat belts. [5]

Teen Seat Belt Use Fact #6

The fine for not wearing a seat belts is $15 to $200 and the majority of States have primary enforcement laws allowing police officers to stop and ticket a driver if he or she observes a violation. [6]

Teen Seat Belt Use Fact #7

Air bags are not enough to protect you; in fact, the force of an air bag can seriously injure or even kill you if you’re not buckled up. [7]

Teen Seat Belt Use Fact #8

Seat belts save about 15,000 lives per year equaling about 255,000 lives saved since 1975. [8]

Teen Seat Belt Use Fact #9

People not wearing a seat belt are 30 times more likely to be ejected from the vehicle during a crash. [8]

What Can Be Done About Teen's Not Wearing Seat Belts?

INFORM YOUR TEEN: Emphasize that wearing a seat belt is the single most important thing they can do to reduce the fatality and injury risk of driving a car, reducing the risk by 50%. Share the gruesome reality of being ejected from a vehicle if you are not wearing a seat belt as the driver, front passenger, and rear passenger. Since accidents are impossible to predict seat belts must be worn every trip, every time or injury or death could occur. Go over the seat belt laws in your State, the fines, and the financial ramifications to your insurance if your teen were ticketed. Commit your teen in a Parent/Teen Driving Contract to always wear their seat belt and establish the consequences if they break the contract: loss of driving privileges, pay the difference in the car insurance increase, ect.

BE THE EXAMPLE: Teens would never admit it but they follow the example set by their parents. If a parent always wears their seat belt and insists everyone in the car is buckled before driving then a teen is much more likely to do the same.

REMIND THEM OFTEN: The seat belt conversation with your teen is not a one and done conversation, it’s ongoing. Ask your teen about wearing a seat belt, and remind them every so often. You might have your teen adopt the Time to Drive Ritual outlined in the Mindfulness section of the Mitigation Strategies. If you insist your teen do the Time to Drive Ritual every time before they embark on a trip, seat belt use will become habitual. Also, remember to encourage your teen to not only wear their seat belt will driving, but also as a passenger in the front seat or in the back.

Mitigation Strategies to Help Teens Use Seat Belts

Teen Seat Belt Use Resources

  1. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Fatality Facts 2017: Teenagers. Highway Loss Data Institute; December 2018. Available at icon. Accessed 3 October 2019.
  2. Enriquez, J. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Occupant Restraint Use in 2018: Results From the NOPUS Controlled Intersection Study (Report No. DOT HS 812 781). US Department of Transportation; August 2019. Available at: icon.
  3. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Traffic Safety Facts 2017: Young Drivers (Report No. DOT HS 812 753). US Department of Transportation; May 2019. Available at: icon.
  4. Shults RA, Haegerich TM , Bhat G , et al. Teens and seat belt use: what makes them click? J Safety Res 2016;57:19–25.doi:10.1016/j.jsr.2016.03.003
  5. Ginsburg, K. R., D. R. Durbin, J. F. Garcia-Espana, E. A. Kalicka, and F. K. Winston. "Associations Between Parenting Styles and Teen Driving, Safety-Related Behaviors and Attitudes." Pediatrics 124, no. 4 (2009): 1040-1051.
  6. “Governors Highway Safety Association.” Seat Belt Laws, belts.
  7. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Seat Belts. US Department of Transportation; May 2019. Available at:  
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Seat Belts: Policy Impact. The Department of Health and Human Services: Available at: