What Are Arizona's Seat Belt Laws?
Seat belts save lives. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that seat belts reduce the risk of death to front-seat passengers in cars by 45% and in light trucks by 60%. Of all the people who suffered fatal injuries in car accidents in 2015, 48% were not wearing seat belts. Despite the importance of seat belt use, about 27.5 million people in the U.S. still don’t buckle up.
If safety isn’t enough to convince you, perhaps Arizona’s seat belt laws will. In the Grand Canyon State, it is illegal not to wear a safety belt.
Obeying the Law in Arizona
There is no federal law mandating the use of seat belts throughout the country. Instead, each state has the option to enact its own laws regarding the use of vehicle restraint systems. The NHTSA offers grant programs to states that wish to initiate seat belt laws. The State of Arizona takes seat belt use very seriously. With car crashes injuring and killing thousands of Arizonians every year, the state makes a strong effort to encourage and enforce the wearing of safety belts. One such effort is Arizona’s seat belt law.
There are two types of seat belt laws: primary and secondary. Primary seat belt laws allow law enforcement to make traffic stops based solely on a broken seat belt law. Secondary laws only allow police officers to issue citations for lack of seat belt use if they make a stop for another reason, such as a moving violation. Arizona is a secondary enforcement seat belt state. It is every driver’s responsibility to enforce the use of safety belts by all passengers under the age of 16.
If a passenger is over the age of 16 and not wearing a seat belt in the front passenger seat, he or she can receive an individual citation. The maximum penalty for breaking this law is a $10 fine. Arizona obeys primary seat belt laws when it comes to child passengers. A driver can receive a citation for transporting a child who is less than 4’9” and under the age of eight without a proper child restraint system. The penalty for violating this primary law is a fine of no more than $50 per citation.
Could a Seat Belt Violation Affect a Car Accident Case?
Seat belt use is always a question that comes up after a car accident. Those investigating the crash, including police officers and vehicle insurance companies, will ask the driver if he or she was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. Since it is against the law for drivers not to wear seat belts, non-use could potentially affect the driver’s eligibility for compensation. The defense could argue that had the driver been obeying the seat belt law, his or her injuries would not have been as severe. This argument could lower or even eliminate the injured driver’s compensation award.
Don’t assume that because you weren’t buckled up you’re ineligible for compensation. This fact may simply lower the amount you’re eligible for by your percentage of fault. If you broke Arizona’s seat belt laws in a recent car accident, retain a Phoenix personal injury attorney for individual counsel about how to proceed with the claims process. Call Cullan & Cullan at (602) 900-9483 to learn more.