What are Missouri’s Seat Belt Laws in 2022?

If you are a driver or passenger in Missouri, it’s essential to understand the state’s seat belt laws. Knowing the law can help you avoid both expensive fines and even more expensive medical bills if you are injured in a crash while not wearing one.

Below we discuss Missouri’s seat belt laws as of 2022, including who must wear one and why every person should put on a seat belt when traveling in the Show-Me State.

Missouri’s Current Seat Belt Laws

Currently, Missouri’s seat belt laws require the following:

  • Drivers must wear a seat belt
  • Front seat passengers must wear a seat belt
  • Children above 8 and under 16 must wear a seat belt, regardless of whether they are seated in the front or back
  • Children under 8 must travel in approved car seats with appropriate restraints

These laws went into effect January 1, 2020, and those who break them may face a fine, which steeply increases when child passengers are riding without a seat belt or car seat.

Missouri Car Crash Statistics

Although the law does not require everyone in the car to wear a seat belt, there is a strong argument for why all adults, even those in the backseat, should do so.

According to the Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT), traffic fatalities rose 12% in 2020. 989 people lost their lives in car accidents in 2020. 90% of these deaths are reportedly due to speeding and distracted driving. The majority of those deaths (67%) were of people who were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash.

The National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that young male passengers are the most likely to die in a car collision. One major reason why could be seatbelt usage. More than half of the men between 18 and 34 who died in car crashes in 2017 were not wearing seatbelts.

Consequences of Riding While Unbuckled

In Missouri, those over the age of 16 and riding in the back seat of a vehicle are not legally required to buckle up. However, wearing a seatbelt could make the difference between whether you make it home or not after being struck by a negligent driver. The NHTSA reports that nearly 15,000 lives were saved in 2017 alone from seat belt use.

If you are a passenger or driver in Missouri, wearing your seat belt keeps you secure in the event of a collision. Without a seat belt, your risk of being thrown from the car increases significantly, as do your chances of serious injury or death. Passengers who do not wear a seat belt can be thrown even from the backseat.

Even when unrestrained passengers are not thrown from the vehicle through the windshield, they can be seriously injured by being knocked around the inside of the vehicle and colliding with seatbacks, doors, and even other passengers! Any unrestrained person in a car essentially becomes a projectile in a collision. According to one study, a passenger wearing a seatbelt’s risk of dying in a car crash increases by 25% if they are riding with another passenger who is not wearing their seatbelt. For this reason, wearing a seatbelt protects not just you, but everyone else in the car. 

Common injuries among people who don’t wear seatbelts include:

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Serious burns
  • Road rash
  • Internal injuries
  • Disfigurement
  • Dismemberment
  • Death

The NHTSA states that buckling up in the front seat can reduce your risk of critical injury by 50% and fatalities by 45%.

Surprisingly, most fatal car collisions occur when cars are traveling at less than 40 miles per hour and within a 25-mile radius from the person’s home. This indicates that wearing your seat belt is essential no matter where you are, how long you are planning to be on the road, or how fast your car is going. 

What to Do If You are Injured in an Auto Accident

If you are involved in a wreck in Missouri, reach out to a St. Louis car accident attorney for help. You will need compensation to cover your medical expenses and lost wages, and it will be difficult to do so if you are stressed and in pain.

The team at Cofman Townsley is adept at navigating the legal landscape surrounding Missouri car accident cases. Working with the right attorney can help you obtain a fair settlement for your injuries and recover from the accident in peace. Call us today for a free consultation to understand your legal options.