Seat Belts

The Virginia Highway Safety Office wants to remind you that seat belts are your best defense during a crash. The primary function of the seat belt is to prevent ejection and spread crash forces over a wider part of the body to reduce injury and fatality. In fact, with the proper use of seat belts you are 40% less likely to be fatally injured during a crash. With these odds, why wouldn't you buckle up? Virginia law requires seat belt use for drivers and front seat passengers over 16 years of age, but make sure that all passengers in the vehicle are properly buckled up whether they are in the front seat or the back.

Facts About Seat Belts


  • Airbags do not replace the need for seat belts. When used with seat belts, airbags further reduce the risk of death or injury in the event of a crash.
  • Seat belts hold the driver in place, helping the driver maintain control of the car during a collision. The lap belt should fit low and snug across the hips while the shoulder belt keeps the driver from pitching forward into the steering wheel, dashboard and windshield.
  • For an adult, the shoulder harness should fit closely against the chest, never under the arm. The lap belt should fit low and snug across the hips, never across the abdomen.
  • For a child, the shoulder harness should fit over the shoulder and across the breastbone. The lap belt should fit low and snug across the hips.
  • For pregnant women, keep the lap belt low across the hips, never across the abdomen.
  • Medical costs resulting from traffic crashes are twice as costly for occupants who are not belted.
  • An insured driver who routinely wears a seat belt pays higher premiums each year to cover crash-related medical expenses for those who do not wear seat belts.
  • When a driver is buckled with a seat belt, children are likely to be buckled 87 percent of the time. When a driver is not buckled in a seat belt, children are likely to be buckled only 24 percent of the time.