Whether you’re a driver or a passenger, it’s typically common practice to buckle up in a moving vehicle. However, this convention tends to be the opposite in public transportation: riding in a taxicab or similar hired vehicle without a seatbelt seems to be the norm in some cities.
We wanted to see if there was a similar mindset in Georgia when utilizing vehicles from rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft, so we conducted a study to find out the answer.
In August 2017, we surveyed 1,000 Georgians about their seatbelt use in rideshare vehicles. 58.7 percent said they always wore a seatbelt when riding in an Uber, Lyft, or taxicab. 23.4 percent never wore a seatbelt, 9.8 percent occasionally wore one, and 8.1 percent frequently wore a seatbelt.
Seatbelt Use is More Common in Women than Men
According to our survey, females seem to be more conscious of seatbelt use than males: 64.9 percent of females said they always wear seatbelts, compared to just 51.7 percent of males. Additionally, 29.1 percent of males said they never wore seatbelts, compared to only 18.8 percent of females.
Older Riders Wear Seatbelts More Often Than Young Riders
Seatbelt use in rideshare vehicles seems to go up as the age of riders goes up, according to our study. More riders aged 45 and up seem to always wear seatbelts, compared to those 44 and younger. This peaks at the 55-64 age range, where 68.4 percent say they always wear seatbelts.
Interestingly, the lowest seatbelt usage rate seems to occur in riders 35-44, where only about half said they always wear seatbelts, and 28.9 percent claim they never wear seatbelts.
Comparing the Data to the Nation
In 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 89.7 percent of drivers and passengers in vehicles across the United States wore seatbelts in a moving automobile.
This is a significant difference to the 58.7 percent gathered from surveyed participants in Georgia, and bears further investigation.
Possible Contributing Circumstances
One important factor to consider is where exactly passengers are sitting in a rideshare vehicle: the front passenger seat or the rear seat?
According to a 2016 survey by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 91 percent claim they always use a seat belt in the front passenger seat – but just 72 percent surveyed said they always use a seat belt in the backseat.
Additionally, the survey also revealed that only 57 percent of passengers in ride-hailing vehicles report always using a seatbelt in the rear seat – a number that closely aligns with our survey findings.
The Official Policy from Ridesharing Companies
The two major ridesharing companies, Uber and Lyft, make brief mention of seat belts in their safety guidelines, but make no definitive rules supporting seat belt use. Uber strongly encourages passengers to buckle up, while Lyft merely requires that all Lyft vehicles are equipped with at least 5 functioning seat belts.
This is likely due to the varying differences in seat belt law from state to state – and may imply that they ultimately cede to those laws.
The Seat Belt Law in Georgia
Georgia is one of a handful of states who have backseat exemptions in their seatbelt usage laws. While drivers and front seat passengers are required to wear a seat belt at all times, and children 0-17 years of age are required to be firmly seated in a child restraint or a seatbelt, the policy for back seat restraints is considerably more lax: passengers aged 18 years and older are not required to wear a seat belt when they are sitting in the back seat.
Whether this is a contributing factor to our findings remains to be seen, but further investigation is certainly warranted.
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