Motor vehicle crashes are the number-one cause of death for Americans aged 1 to 54. Fortunately, wearing your seatbelt can significantly reduce your chance of dying in a car crash. This guide from our team of Little Rock car accident lawyers at Denton & Zachary will help you understand how the Arkansas seatbelt laws impact your case.
Arkansas Seatbelt Laws
According to Arkansas Code Title 27 Transportation § 27-37-702, all drivers and front seat passengers in any motor vehicle operating on a highway or street in Arkansas must wear a seat belt that is properly adjusted and securely fastened to the vehicle.
Additionally, anyone riding with a teen driver who has a learner’s or intermediate license or a person driving with a restricted license must also wear a seat belt, regardless of which seat they are riding in.
Arkansas seatbelt laws for children
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seat belts and child restraint seats reduce the risk of children suffering a serious injury or dying in a car crash by half. Arkansas law requires all children under 16 to wear a seat belt or sit in an age- and size-appropriate safety seat while riding in a motor vehicle.
Children under 6 who weigh less than 60 pounds must ride in a car seat.
Children aged 5 to 8 who are less than 4’9″ must ride in booster seats.
Kids aged 6 to 15 who weigh 60 pounds or more must wear seatbelts.
Additionally, Arkansas requires school buses purchased or leased after January 1, 2018, to have seatbelts for all passengers.
Arkansas seatbelt laws for passengers seated in wheelchairs
All drivers and passengers seated in a wheelchair in a motor vehicle must secure the wheelchair in the vehicle. They must also wear a seatbelt that is properly adjusted and secured to the wheelchair.
Arkansas Seatbelt Law Exemptions
Arkansas’ seatbelt laws have four exemptions:
- Occupants of passenger automobiles manufactured before July 1, 1968, and occupants of other motor vehicles manufactured before January 1, 1972
- Drivers and passengers who have a physical disability certified by a physician that makes the use of a seat belt inappropriate
- Children who are properly restrained according to the Child Passenger Protection Act
- Rural letter carriers for the United States Postal Service who are performing their job duties
Anyone who is not exempt may face penalties for violating seatbelt laws.
Penalties for Violating Arkansas Seatbelt Laws
Violating the seatbelt laws in Arkansas is a primary offense. This means that law enforcement officers can pull someone over solely because they suspect a seatbelt violation. Law enforcement officers issued more than 6,300 citations for seatbelt violations in 2021.
The penalty for each violation of the seatbelt laws is a fine of up to $25.00.
Local authorities may impose an additional fine of up to $20.00. Additionally, anyone who doesn’t pay the fine before going to court may have to pay an additional $25.00 for court costs. The fine for failing to properly secure a child in a vehicle ranges from $25 to $100.
How Seatbelts Reduce Injury Severity
From 1975 to 2017, seatbelt use has saved an estimated 374,276 American lives. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that seatbelt use saved 214 lives in Arkansas in 2017 and could have saved an additional 72 of the unrestrained passengers who died in Arkansas car crashes that year.
Research has shown that seatbelt use reduces serious injuries and deaths in car accidents by about half by:
- Preventing ejections
- Slowing the body gradually
- Spreading crash forces over a wider area of the body and redistributing them to the strongest parts of the body
- Protecting the spinal cord and head
85% of people who survive motor vehicle accidents are wearing a seatbelt or sitting in an age-appropriate child-restraint seat.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have to wear a seatbelt in the backseat in Arkansas?
Passengers over the age of 15 do not have to wear a seatbelt in the backseat unless they are riding with a teenage driver or a person with a restricted license. Children under the age of 16 must be properly secured when riding in the backseat.
Is it illegal to ride in the bed of a truck?
It is illegal to ride in any part of a vehicle not designed for passengers, including truck beds. Persons riding in a truck bed as part of their job duties are exempt.
Do I still have a case if I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt when my accident happened?
In some states, courts and insurance companies may reduce your compensation if you were not wearing a seatbelt when your accident happened. However, Arkansas is not one of them.
Arkansas law does not permit either side to introduce evidence that either party was not wearing a seatbelt as a defense to paying damages caused by a car accident.
Do I need an attorney if I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt during a car accident?
Most car accident victims can benefit from working with an experienced attorney. Our attorneys can investigate your case, talk to witnesses, evaluate fault, work with experts and identify the evidence we need to maximize your results.
Additionally, we will help you negotiate with the insurance company, file legal documents, prepare a customized legal strategy and represent you in court if necessary. Our car accident attorneys know how the claims process works in Arkansas and will guide you from start to finish.
Help With Your Arkansas Car Accident Case
While Arkansas seatbelt laws will usually not impact your ability to receive compensation for injuries or the death of a loved one due to someone else’s negligent operation of a motor vehicle, there are other tactics insurance companies and lawyers may use to reduce your settlement or avoid paying for your damages.
The experienced car accident attorneys at Denton & Zachary will protect your interests and do what it takes to maximize your results. Contact us in Little Rock, AR today to schedule a free case evaluation.