New seat belt law passes

News Brief

CHAPEL HILL—On Wednesday, July 19, 2006, Governor Easley signed Senate Bill 744 into law, making it illegal for backseat passengers to ride without a seat belt.

The most significant change to the NC Seat Belt law is that it is now required for any rear seat occupant to wear a seat belt, not just those younger than 16 years old. Changes go into effect December 1, 2006, and will require that commercial vehicles and vehicles designed for carrying more than 10 passengers, two vehicles formerly exempt, also comply with the law.

“We applaud the General Assembly for recognizing the importance of increasing occupant protection for rear-seat passengers,” said Bill Hall, manager of HSRC’s Occupant Protection Program. “This bill can increase rear seat belt usage to save lives, reduce injuries and make our highways safer.”

Studies have shown that unbuckled rear seat occupants can injure buckled up front seat occupants as well as themselves when they are thrown around or out of the car in a crash. The force of a human body flying into the front seat is calculated to be as much as 3.5 tons for a 30-mile per hour crash

Senator William R. Purcell introduced and sponsored the bill during the 2005 session of the NC General Assembly. The bill, supported by many organizations including the NC Child Fatality Task Force and the NC Executive Committee for Highway Safety, passed in the Senate in 2005, then in the House earlier this July.

Information about North Carolina’s child passenger safety and seat belt laws can be found at

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UNC Highway Safety Research Center contact: Katy Jones, (919) 843-7007 or

Media Contacts

Caroline Dickson

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