Seat belts are one of the more important safety features when it comes to keeping people inside a car free from injury, and Montana has seat belt laws for this purpose. Statistics from a Montana Highway Traffic Safety Report for 2015 determined that only about 20-30% of occupants killed in Montana car crashes were properly wearing seat belts. The study found that young people, ages 14-30, accounted for almost 47% of all unrestrained vehicle occupant fatalities between 2006 and 2015. The study also found that 68% of those who died on Montana’s roadways in 2015 weren’t wearing a seat belt.
Montana, like many states, has made seat belt use mandatory. However, Montana is in the minority of states with seat belt laws because Montana has what’s called a “secondary seat belt” law. A secondary seat belt law means that law enforcement may not stop the vehicle for seat belt use alone. But if a motorist is stopped for another traffic violation, then an offender can be cited for non-seat belt use. The secondary seat belt law is for all seating positions in a vehicle.
The alternative to a secondary seat belt law is a primary seat belt law. A primary seat belt law allows officers to ticket a driver or passenger for not wearing a seat belt, without any other traffic offense taking place. The majority of states, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association, have primary seat belt laws for front seat occupants.
Montana’s secondary seat belt law applies to all occupants over the age of 6, and it covers all occupants. A person violating the law in Montana can be fined up to $20 for the first offense. Children are not exempt from proper seat belt use, and Montana has extensive car seat requirements that are not the subject of this post.
Without a doubt, seat belt usage is a simple and easy safety feature that should always be used. But, even with proper use, Montana drivers or occupants can still be injured in a car accident with serious injuries. The McGrady Law Firm can help explain your rights following a serious automobile accident.