07/15/07 — Back-seat passengers now have to buckle up, too

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Back-seat passengers now have to buckle up, too

By Lee Williams
Published in News on July 15, 2007 2:01 AM

Before you crank up your car and go for a little drive, don't forget to buckle your seat belt, police say.

And if you have any passengers in the either the front or back seat, don't forget to tell them to buckle up, too.

Since the first of this month, back-seat passengers in North Carolina have to be buckled into their seat belts as well as drivers and front-seat passengers.

And Goldsboro police are warning residents that they will enforce the law.

Officers have been working for months to spread the word about the change in the seat-belt law and have been issuing warning tickets. But they soon will begin issuing real tickets.

Maj. Mike Hopper, who heads the police department's patrol division, said the additional restriction might seem bothersome to some people, but he urged all occupants in an automobile to obey the law -- because it could save a life.

In May, officials from the Governor's Highway Safety Program demonstrated the effects of a crash using their "seat belt ."

The seat belt convincer showed how hard it would be for someone to brace themselves in a vehicle collision while traveling only 5 mph.

"A lot of people don't realize that the back seat belt is just as important as the front seat belt because if you have a wreck at 35 mph, which doesn't seem that fast, but if you get into an accident, you won't be able to brace yourself and you'll go right over the seat," Hopper said.

A driver or front seat passenger who is cited for not wearing a seat belt could face a $25 fine and $75 court costs. A back seat passenger could face a citation and a $10 fine for not wearing a seat belt, Hopper said.

Age could play a factor in who will get the citation, police say.

"If the person in the back seat is under 16, the driver is responsible and will be the one getting the ticket because the driver is responsible for their passengers," Hopper said. "If the back seat passenger is over 16 and they don't have on a seat belt, they will be the one who will receive the citation."

Hopper said some people are going to have to change their viewpoint about wearing seat belts whether you're in the front seat or the back seat because it's no longer an option.

"A lot of people are going to have to change their mindset," he said. "Not long ago, if you got into the back seat and buckled up, the driver would say, 'You don't trust my driving.' But now, it's about the safety of the front and back seat passenger."