It's no secret that seat belts can save lives but a new report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety finds that many people choose not to wear them while riding in the back seat of a vehicle

IIHS Senior Research Engineer, Jessica Jermakian says most people buckle up when they're driving, but a quarter of survey respondents think it's safer in the back seat and don't feel the need to buckle up.

The report found that 91 percent of people always use their seat belt in the front seat. Of that 91 percent, only 72 percent use it in the back seat, says Jermakian. She adds that number drops to 57 percent when traveling in tabs and ride hailing services like Uber and Lyft.

About 93 percent of people buckle their seat belts in the front seat of a vehicle in New Jersey, according to the State Motor Vehicle Commission.

Gary Poedubicky, acting director of the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, said in a survey conducted last year, 79 percent of New Jerseyans said they buckle up in the back seat overall. He adds, children, ages 0-8 have the highest back seat belt usage rate at 90 percent. Those ages 8-18 are next at 60 percent. Adults 18 and older had the lowest back seat belt usage rate at 45 percent.

Jermakian says not buckling up in the back not only puts you at risk but others in the car too. "We know that drivers are twice as likely to be fatally injured when the passenger behind them is unbuckled."

So how can we get more people to buckle up in the back seat of a car? Jermakian says stronger laws would help. Respondents say they would be more likely to buckle up if they knew there was a law requiring them to and even more said they would buckle up if they knew the driver could get pulled over if they weren't buckled.

New Jersey does have a law that requires rear-seat passengers to buckle up, but "it only allows for secondary enforcement. The law could be strengthened by moving that law to primary enforcement, which would mean that a police officer could pull somebody over for a rear seat passenger being unbuckled," says Jermakian.

Another way to get people to buckle up in the back seat is the use of technology, she adds. In the front seat, persistent belt reminder systems are effective in getting front seat occupants to buckle up. But Jermakian says very few automakers are putting belt reminder systems in vehicles that cover the rear seat.

About 62 percent of respondents say they are are more likely to buckle up in the rear seat if there was an audible reminder in the vehicle.

One important reminder that Jermakian makes very clear is that "the law of physics does not change if you move to the back seat. It's not any safer back there if you don't wear your belt."

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