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Seat Belts

Seat belts save lives.

They are the single most effective safety device to prevent death and injury in a motor vehicle crash. 

Seat belts restrain occupants in the vehicle’s designed protective space, giving them room to live in the event of a crash and prevents them from colliding with other occupants in the vehicle. A seat belt also keeps the driver correctly positioned behind the wheel to help maintain control of a vehicle.

The failure to wear a seat belt results in more motor vehicle fatalities in North Dakota than most other factors. 

In 2022, 69% of motor vehicle fatalities in North Dakota were not wearing seat belts.

Primary Seat Belt Law

  • All front seat and back seat occupants must be buckled up regardless of age.
  • Children younger than 8 years of age are required to ride in a child restraint (car seat or booster seat).
  • A correctly used seat belt may be substituted for children younger than 8 years of age who are at least 4'9" tall.
Learn more about North Dakota's Primary Seat Belt Law here

Most people who drive and ride in motor vehicles in North Dakota understand how important it is to wear a seat belt. An annual survey of observed seat belt use in North Dakota in 2021 showed that slightly more than eight out of every 10 people wear a seat belt. But it is those who do not wear seat belts who are much more likely to lose their life in a crash.

If you weigh 125 pounds and are in a crash at 30 miles per hour, your body will hit the inside of your vehicle with a force of 3,750 pounds if you're not wearing a seat belt.

What are some excuses people use for not wearing a seat belt?

  • "It will mess up my clothes."
    • If you're in a crash, getting thrown around the vehicle or ejected will mess up your clothes much worse.
  • "That's what the air bag is for."
    • The air bag is designed to work along with the seat belt, not to replace it.
  • "I don't need to wear a seat belt unless I'm on the Interstate."
    • A crash can happen anytime, anywhere. Wearing a seat belt is your best defense against serious injury or death. 
  • "If there is a fire or if I fall into the river, I'll never get out of the vehicle."
    • Less than 1% of crashes end up in this situation.
  • "I only need a seat belt if there is a lot of traffic."
    • Most crashes are single vehicle crashes and do not result from heavy traffic. 

Seat belts protect you by:

  • Keeping you safe inside your vehicle.
  • Spreading the force of impact over a large area and the strongest part of the body.
  • Allowing your body to slow down gradually, lessening the impact on internal organs.
  • Preventing impact with the interior of the vehicle.
  • Preventing collision with other occupants of the vehicle.
  • Preventing trauma to the brain and spinal cord caused by sudden change in motion.

For the best protection, position your seat belt correctly:

  • The shoulder belt should cross the center of your chest with no more than one inch of slack. Never tuck the shoulder belt under your arm. Wearing the harness the wrong way could cause serious internal injuries in a crash.
  • Adjust the strap so it goes over the collarbone, not against the neck or face. Most vehicles have sliding height adjustments on the interior doorpost.
  • The lap belt goes low across the hips - never across the stomach.
  • Sit upright with your back against the seat and your feet on the floor.


How many fatalities are acceptable in your family? We're aiming for zero. Buckle up. every trip. every time. It could save your life.