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Can wearing a seat belt in rear seats reduce injuries?

Connecticut fans of 60 Minutes were likely saddened by the recent news that Bob Simon from the show was killed in a car accident while riding in the back seat of a vehicle. Simon was reportedly not wearing a seat belt. According to a representative with the Connecticut Injury Prevention Center at Hartford Hospital, in car accidents, those who are not wearing a seat belt, particularly those seated in the back or rear seats, tend to become projectiles during a collision, and cause serious injuries not only to themselves but also the belted occupants in the vehicle.

Furthermore, the representative noted that nearly five deaths and about 120 injuries annually are due to rear seat passengers not wearing a seat belt. Presently, about 28 states in the U.S. have laws in place which require rear-seat passengers in a car to wear a seat belt. Though Connecticut is not one of those states, Connecticut state lawmakers are considering a bill in the House that would require those seated in the rear-seats of a car to wear seat belts.

Advocates supporting the bill include the mother of 23-year-old woman who lost her life in a car accident because she was not wearing a seat belt while sitting in the rear. Additionally, the State Transportation Commissioner noted that the statistics around unbelted rear-seat occupants of vehicles becoming airborne or a projectile is compelling.

Other supporters of the bill to require rear-seat occupants to wear seat belts include the senior vice president of AAA, and the medical director of emergency medicine at Hartford Hospitals. Having laws in place that require passengers and rear-seat occupants to wear seat belts have the potential to save lives and reduce injuries.

Source: New Haven Register, "Connecticut lawmakers consider requiring seat belts in the back seat," Ed Stannard, Feb. 23, 2015

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