Ride-share danger: People are less likely to buckle up in a hired car

Key Points
  • Only 72 percent of people say they buckle up in the back seat of a car.
  • When riding in a cab or ride-sharing service, that number drops to 57 percent.
  • Not wearing a seat belt puts passengers at risk in the event of an accident regardless of where they sit in the vehicle.
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With a growing number of people using Uber, Lyft or other hired rides, many may be ignoring the danger of not buckling up.

A new survey of almost 1,200 adults by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found just 72 percent said they buckle up while in the back seat of a car. By comparison, 91 percent say they buckle up when in the front seat.

"For most adults, it's still as safe to ride in the back seat as the front seat, but not if you aren't buckled up," says Jessica Jermakian, an IIHS senior research engineer and a co-author of the study. "That applies to riding in an Uber, Lyft or other hired vehicle, too."

The survey found just 57 percent of passengers riding in hired vehicles say they use their belt in the rear seat.

The survey comes as seat-belt use has risen to an all-time high in the U.S., with an estimated 90 percent of drivers saying they now buckle up. More people have started using seat belts due to states passing laws requiring drivers to buckle up. Meanwhile, vehicles now come with warning lights and chimes to alert drivers and front-seat passengers that they need to put on their seat belts. By comparison, few models have seat-belt reminders for the back seat.

The Insurance Institute says the No. 1 reason people fail to buckle up in the back seat is that they believe they are safer riding in the rear seat if there is an accident. However, IIHS says those not wearing a seat belt are putting themselves at risk regardless of where they are sitting during a car crash.

"If your cab or ride-hailing driver is involved in a crash, you want that safety belt," Jermakian says.