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Seat Belt Frequently Asked Questions

If I am driving someone else’s child and the child does not want to wear a safety belt, am I responsible?
Yes, the driver is responsible for all persons under the age of 18 in the vehicle. All persons under age 18 must be proprly secured in a child safety seat or with a safety belt no matter where they are sitting in the vehicle.
Can a person be pulled over simply for not wearing a safety belt?
The seat belt law in Virginia is considered a "secondary" offense which means a driver would need to commit another "primary" offense, such as speeding or making an illegal lane change etc. If the driver is unrestrained, then the driver can also be charged with a safety belt violation. Additionally, if front seat passengers are riding unbuckled and are over the age of 18, they too can receive a summons. If persons under age 18 are not properly restrained, then the driver will receive a summons for each individual under 18 years that is not properly restrained.
I am always in a hurry and putting on a safety belt is such a hassle. Is it really worth it
Buckling up is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in a crash. During a crash, being buckled up helps keep you safe and secure inside your vehicle, whereas being completely thrown out of a vehicle is almost always deadly. Seat belts are the best defense against impaired, aggressive and distracted drivers.
My safety belt allows me to lean forward enough to adjust my car stereo. How do I know if it will protect me in a crash?
It may seem that your seat belt is not working correctly; however, most safety restraints allow some controlled movement. To ensure your safety, check with your dealer to make sure that the seat belt is properly functioning.
If my safety belts are defective, will the manufacturer repair them at no cost?
In some instances, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) can authorize repairs at no cost. Call the Auto Safety Hotline at (800) 424-9393 for more information.
I drive an older car with only a lap belt. Can I upgrade it to include a shoulder harness?
Some manufacturers provide kits to upgrade lap belts to lap/shoulder belts. Contact the manufacturer or dealership for more information. Lap/shoulder belts provide greater protection than lap belts alone.
Do I need to wear a safety belt in a taxi or on a tour bus?
While not a law in Virginia, safety should always be your number one concern. Take every opportunity to maximize your safety by always wearing a seat belt whenever available regardless of the type of vehicle you are in.
If I am traveling at slow speeds, won’t I be able to brace myself against the dashboard or steering wheel?
No. The force of the impact will increase your body weight to equal thousands of pounds of moving energy. This force is so great that you won't have the strength to brace against it. In addition, a crash surprises you, thus, you would not be prepared to brace yourself. So, play it safe. Always wear your seat belt.
How do I know if the safety belt fits properly?
The shoulder belt should fit snugly across the center of the chest, never under the arm or behind the back. The lap belt should fit snugly and low across the hips, not across the stomach area.
Is there a way to adjust the shoulder harness so that it is more comfortable?
Most new cars have a mechanism to adjust the height of the shoulder harness. Check your owner's manual for more information.
How do I know if the buckle is really locked in?
All seat belts operate differently. Check your owner's manual or with your dealership to make sure the buckle operates correctly. Always listen for the "click" when your buckle locks and give the belt a few extra pulls to be sure it's tight
Is there a law that requires me to wear a belt?
Yes, Virginia law requires drivers and front seat passengers to wear seat belts and to ensure that persons under age 18 are properly restrained.
As a driver, am I responsible for making sure that all passengers are buckled up, even adults?
Each adult passenger (18 and older) is legally responsible for him/herself. However, the driver should strongly urge all passengers to buckle up. As the driver, it is your responsibility to make sure that all persons under age 18 are properly restrained.
I have heard that some insurance companies will not cover car crash injuries if safety belts are not worn during a collision.
Many insurance companies are moving in this direction. Check with your insurance company for their policy.
What do I need to do if I have a medical or physical condition that makes it impractical to wear a seat belt?
While seat belts are the best protection against serious injury in a crash, there may be a medical or physical condition that could be made more serious by wearing a seat belt. If a licensed physician determines that the use of a seat belt system would be impractical by reason of a medical/physical condition, the individual must carry on his/her person or in his/her vehicle a signed written statement of the physician identifying the exempted person and the grounds for exemption.