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Illinois Backseat Passengers Must Buckle Up


A new Illinois law that took effect January 1st effectively requires every backseat passenger to use a safety belt, with a few limited exceptions. Previously, only backseat passengers 19 years of age and under were required to wear seat belts.

The new law is aimed at preventing auto accident deaths and serious injuries.  In 2009, Illinois saw 38 passengers who were not wearing seatbelts while riding in the backseat lose their lives when they were in an auto accident.  Nationwide, 1,095 backseat passengers not wearing seat belts died in 2009, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by approximately 50 percent.

A  Chicago Sun-Times article highlights the risks of riding unrestrained as a passenger in a motor vehicle – whether in the backseat or front seat.  Like front seat passengers, unrestrained backseat passengers can suffer head, chest and abdominal injuries in the event of an auto accident.

Backseat passengers can be “thrown from the vehicle,” according to James Doherty, medical director of trauma and critical care programs at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.  Backseat passengers are also at risk of becoming “human projectiles” during a car crash, which could injure or kill others in the vehicle, according to Doherty.

The law exempts passengers in ambulances, taxis, school buses, delivery trucks that make frequent stops and do not exceed 15 mph, and anyone with a physical impairment that makes it difficult to wear a seat belt (such as a broken collarbone or shoulder injury).

The law allows police offers to stop a vehicle if they see an unbuckled passenger. Offenders face fines starting at $25, which could amount to more, depending on court costs.

Drivers are reminded that children younger than 8 are required to be properly restrained in a child safety seat and children 12 and younger should ride in the back seat.


Steinberg Goodman & Kalish  (www.sgklawyers.com) is dedicated to protecting victims and their families.  We handle medical malpractice, product liability, personal injury, wrongful death, auto accidents, professional negligence, birth trauma, and railroad law matters. Contact us at (800) 784-0150 or (312) 782-1386.