HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — State officials are reminding drivers and passengers in Connecticut the new rear seat belt law goes into effect Friday, Oct. 1.
The new law, which Gov. Ned Lamont signed in July, requires all occupants in a vehicle, regardless of age, to wear a seat belt. Previously, passengers over 16 in the back seat were not required to buckle up.
“Our goal is zero fatalities. Unrestrained passengers in the back seat can become projectiles in the event of a crash, causing serious injuries or fatalities,” Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner Joseph Giulietti said at a press conference Monday. “This new law will aid in our ongoing effort to reduce motor vehicle fatalities and serious injuries. With an increased number of adults riding in the back seats with ride-sharing services, this new law is a lifesaving measure for all Connecticut residents on our roadways.”
Between 2017 and 2020, there were more than 12,589 injuries of rear seat occupants in Connecticut. During this time, there were 61 fatalities, according to data provided by the governor’s office.
The new law is subject to secondary enforcement, meaning drivers can’t be pulled over just because an adult in the back is not wearing a seat belt, according to the governor’s office.
Law enforcement can issue a fine for the unbelted passenger if the driver is pulled over for a primary offense, such as speeding. The fine is $50 if the driver is 18 or older and $75 if the driver is under 18.
“Our troopers will be working enforcement to increase public awareness of the value of seat belt use,” Colonel Stavros Mellekas, commanding officer of the Connecticut State Police, said. “The overall goal is increased safety on all Connecticut highways. It takes about three seconds to buckle up. Take the time to save your life or the life of someone else.”