What are Missouri’s Seat Belt Laws in 2024?

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 2024, including who must wear one and why every person should put on a seat belt when traveling in the State.


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 years old and under 16 years old must wear a seat belt or appropriate restraints, regardless of whether they are seated in the front or the back.
  • Children under 8 weighing under 80 pounds must travel in approved car seats with appropriate restraints.

These laws went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, and violators may face a fine, which steeply increases when child passengers are riding without a seat belt or car seat.


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 back seat, should do so.

According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, 989 people died in car accidents in 2023. In more than 100 of these deaths, distracted driving was a factor. The majority of those deaths (63%) included people who were not wearing seat belts 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 for this could be seat belt usage. Half of the people who died in car crashes in 2021 were not wearing seat belts.


In Missouri, passengers over the age of 16 and riding in the back seat of a vehicle are not legally required to buckle up. However, wearing a seat belt 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 back seat. Ejections during crashes are incredibly dangerous and often fatal.

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. Wearing a seat belt protects not just you, but everyone else in the car as well. 

Common injuries among people who don’t wear seat belts include:

  • Broken bones
  • Disfigurement
  • Dismemberment
  • Internal injuries
  • Road rash
  • Serious burns
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries

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


If you are involved in a car 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.

Originally published April 11, 2022. Updated February 12, 2024.