Every driver has specific duties of care they must follow while driving. Every driver is expected to follow the rules of the road, obey posted traffic signals and speed limits, and yield the right-of-way when necessary. They are also required to wear seatbelts at all times under the state’s vehicle code, and all passengers must be properly secured. It’s important for all drivers and passengers to understand why they must wear their seatbelts, even for very short trips. Accidents can happen unexpectedly from many possible causes and even low-speed accidents have the potential to cause devastating injuries if a driver or passenger is not wearing their seatbelt. Additionally, if a police officer notices a driver or passenger is not wearing their seatbelt, this counts as probable cause for a traffic stop and can lead to a ticket.

How Does a Seatbelt Work?

Every vehicle has seatbelts installed for each seat, including the driver’s seat and every passenger seat. A seatbelt should have a lap belt and a shoulder belt that are connected with a clip into the seat. While the vehicle is moving, the seatbelt restricts movement and will snap into place when the driver applies the brake.

When a driver is about to collide with another vehicle or an object, or if they need to swerve to avoid a sudden hazard in the road, they are likely to slam on their brakes very quickly. When this happens, the seatbelts in the vehicle will lock in place, holding passengers against the backs of their seats. As long as the seatbelt is worn correctly, it can potentially save a person’s life, depending on how an accident happens.

California Seat Belt Law

What to Do After a Car Accident

If you are involved in a car accident, state law requires that you report the accident to 911 if it resulted in significant property damage, bodily injury, or death. Failure to report the accident as required can lead to severe legal penalties. If you are severely hurt, wait for first responders to arrive and do not attempt to move as this could make your injuries worse.

After you receive medical attention it is vital that you consult an experienced California car accident attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can help determine fault for the accident and pursue compensation for your damages. State law requires every driver to have auto insurance, and an at-fault driver’s insurance can go toward paying for a victim’s damages. If the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance coverage to fully cover the losses they caused then they face a personal injury claim from the injured driver.


Q: Is Wearing a Seatbelt Mandatory?

A: Yes. State law requires all drivers and their passengers to wear seatbelts at all times. Seatbelts can significantly reduce the risk of catastrophic or fatal injuries in a crash and are vital for preventing a vehicle occupant from being thrown out of a vehicle in a major collision. The fine for a driver caught without a seatbelt is $162 for a first offense. If a parent is caught with a child younger than 16 without a seatbelt their fine is increased to $490.

Q: What Are the Age and Weight Requirements for Car Seats?

A: Seatbelts are necessary for adults and older children but can be hazardous for younger children. Car seats are required for children under certain age and height limits. All children under the age of 2 must sit in rear-facing car seats unless they are more than 40 inches tall or weigh more than 40 pounds. After they meet these criteria, they may switch to forward-facing car seats, and children under 8 years old must use booster seats. Children 8 years or older or at least 4 feet 9 inches in height may ride in booster seats or at minimum, wear a seatbelt.

Q: What Is the Seat Belt Code?

A: The California Seat Belt Code is Section 27315 of the California Vehicle Code and stipulates that all drivers and passengers over the age of 16 are legally required to wear seatbelts at all times when a vehicle is running. Children under the age of eight require booster seats or car seats, depending on their height and weight. Children between the ages of 8 and 16 are typically required to wear seatbelts.

Q: Why Are Seatbelts Important?

A: Seatbelts are designed to prevent the driver or passenger secured by the belt from pitching forward during a collision. When the driver applies the brake, seatbelts cannot extend, and belted passengers will be held against the backs of their seats. If a driver or passenger is not wearing a seatbelt and there is a head-on collision, the unsecured vehicle occupant could be propelled out of the vehicle, suffering catastrophic injuries. Many studies over the past few decades have proven that seatbelts significantly reduce the risk of catastrophic injuries and deaths in vehicle accidents.

Q: Can Seatbelts Cause Injuries?

A: Yes, it is possible for a vehicle occupant to suffer injuries from a seatbelt if they wear it incorrectly or if they are too small to wear it correctly. For example, many people mistakenly attach seatbelts with the lap belt across their stomach. The lap belt should rest over the tops of the legs, not across the stomach. If the seatbelt seizes when brakes are applied, the momentum of a collision could cause the seatbelt to injure the internal organs behind the abdominal muscles. This is commonly called Seatbelt Syndrome.

Ultimately, it is vital for every driver to not only wear their seatbelt while driving but also to ensure that their passengers are also wearing seatbelts at all times. If you have been involved in a car accident recently and believe another driver is to blame, it is vital to consult an attorney you can trust to help you recover from your damages. Easton & Easton can help determine the full extent of damages you can seek from an at-fault driver and assist you in streamlining your recovery efforts, so contact us today and schedule a consultation with our team to learn more about the legal services we offer.