Ridesharing can be a great way to get where you need to go if you don’t want to drive or don’t have a vehicle. However, while about 90 percent of drivers and 88 percent of front-seat passengers wear seat belts, people are less likely to buckle up when sitting in the back.1,2

How often do passengers buckle up?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) survey found that only 74 percent of adults report always wearing a seat belt when riding in the back seat of a personal car. Of those rear-seat passengers who don’t buckle up, a quarter believe they’re safer in the back than the front – but that’s a misconception. For adults, it’s as safe to ride in the front seat as it is in the back, as long as you fasten your seat belt.2

Further, four out of five unbelted passengers noted they usually don’t bother when using a rideshare.2 Jessica Jermakian, senior research engineer at IIHS, tells Amica, “There’s a perception in these hired vehicles that it’s a different type of trip than when you’re riding in the back of your personal vehicle.”3

Regardless of the nature of the ride, more than half of fatal vehicle crashes in the U.S. each year involve unbelted passengers.2

Are rideshares improving road safety?

Ridesharing apps have steadily grown in popularity, providing safe transportation options for those unable to drive themselves. This may be true, but when reviewing the apps’ impact on safety, the number of vehicle crashes with fatalities increased by two to four percent annually after ridesharing came to U.S. cities.4

Rideshares have increased the number of vehicles on the road – and with more congestion comes higher risk of collisions, Jermakian explains. “As people get into more cars, there is of course increased exposure to getting in crashes. Services like Uber and Lyft are not just drawing from people who would be getting in taxis, but rather people who would have walked or taken transit. Of course, some risky trips may decline as impaired drivers opt for Uber or Lyft over driving their own car,” Jermakian points out.

Are seat belts required by law?

Wearing a seat belt may be seen as merely a best practice, but most states have seat belt laws to protect drivers. In some states, police can pull over cars just because someone isn’t wearing a seat belt. In every state except New Hampshire, the law requires adults to fasten seat belts when riding in the front seat. However, only 30 of those states and Washington, D.C., have seat belt laws that require adults to buckle up when riding in the back.5

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Are rideshare drivers given guidance?

Rideshare companies allow their drivers to operate a variety of cars with different makes and models, but they must all meet the same strict safety regulations. Many companies also provide guidelines to their drivers to promote passenger safety. For example, Lyft requires vehicles to have at least five working seat belts, including the driver’s.6 And Uber has teamed up with the Governors Highway Safety Association and Volvo to launch the “Make It Click” campaign, reminding passengers to buckle up no matter where they sit in the vehicle.7

However, there currently isn’t a clear way these guidelines can be enforced. Notably, ten percent of passengers who don’t buckle up in a hired vehicle reported the seat belt was difficult to use or they couldn’t find it.2

If you’re currently a rideshare driver, or are thinking about becoming one, make sure to check that your seat belts are working properly before you hit the road. Also, remember that a simple prompt can make all the difference: three-quarters of IIHS surveyed adults who had ridden in the back seat of a personal or hired vehicle said they’d be more likely to wear a seat belt if someone in the car reminded them.2

When hailing a ride, how does ridesharing compare with taxis and car services? Learn the pros and cons of each.