Eight people were killed in the greater Spokane area in early May. One common elements shared by these accidents was that none of the accident victims were wearing seat belts at the time they occurred.
Even though more people are wearing seat belts lately due to recent campaigns by the state, law enforcement in Spokane and the rest of Washington still sees a number of accidents in which people who fail to wear their seat belts are catastrophically injured.
Despite the number of safety features that have been added to vehicles in recent years, seat belts still play a pivotal role in keeping drivers and passengers safe on the roads. All Washington drivers should understand not just the importance of wearing a seat belt, but also the various applicable Washington laws.
Who is Required to Wear a Seat Belt?
Laws in Washington require all people who are 16 years and older who operate or ride motor vehicles to wear seat belts.
Also no person in Washington is permitted to operate a motor vehicle unless he or she has first properly secured all children under the age of 16 in either safety belts or child restraint devices. In the state of Washington, this regulation is classified as a primary law, which means that law enforcement officers who notice a person in violation of this law need no other reason to perform a traffic stop.
How a Seat Belt Should be Worn
A seat belt should be fastened by sitting upright in the seat and placing the shoulder belt across the center of the chest. The lap section of the belt should fit firmly across a person's hips. A seat belt should not feel loose.
By wearing a seat belt the wrong way, an individual greatly increases his or her chances of being seriously injured if an accident occurs.
Penalties Associated with Violating Washington Seat Belt Law
Seat belt laws in Washington can result in fines of up to $124 for an individual.
Failure to follow seat belt laws, however, cannot be used as evidence in a negligence lawsuit, which means that these details cannot be used to show that a person's operation of a motor vehicle fell below the acceptable standard of care.
Child Safety Laws
In an effort to make sure that children in Washington remain safe while traveling in cars, the state has created a number of safety regulations. These laws require motor vehicle drivers to keep all children properly restrained, which means:
- Children under the age of 8 who are less than 4 feet 9 inches tall must use a child restraint system that complies with standards created by the United States Department of Transportation.
- A rear-facing infant car seat must be used for newborns and small babies.
- Once toddlers reach established age and height requirements, a booster seat should be used until a child is able to wear a safety belt.
- Children under the age of 13 must sit in the backseat whenever possible.
Speak with a Spokane Car Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one is injured in a car accident, do not hesitate to speak with an experienced car accident attorney. Contact West Law Office today to schedule a free initial consultation.