Seatbelt Usage in Indiana
Indiana enacted its first seatbelt law in July of 1987, but it did not become a primary enforcement state until much later, July of 1998. With primary enforcement, a person may be stopped by a police officer for not wearing a seatbelt even if they are not breaking any other traffic laws.
Everyone who is 16 years old and older must wear a seatbelt whether they are seated in the front or rear seat. If they do not obey the law, they are subject to a minimum fine of $25 for a first offense. The state also has a child safety seat law, which requires those aged seven and younger to be restrained in such a seat. Failure to obey this law may also incur a $25 fine as well.
Indiana fares well above the national average for those who wear seatbelts. The rate for the state is at 94 percent as compared to the US average of 86 percent. Indiana has shown an increase over the years for the number of people wearing a seatbelt. In 2007, the rate was 87.9 percent, which has increased steadily. In 2012, it was 93.6 percent before dropping slightly to 90.2 percent in 2014.
In spite of the high rate of seatbelt wearers, Indiana has a higher traffic fatality rate at 12.4. This is above the national average of 10.9 per 100,000 population. Indiana is part of the Midwest Region for statistical purposes, which is the lowest ranked for seatbelt use. The region comes in with 81.7 percent, which is well behind the third place region – the Northeast.
In general, rural areas have a lower rate of seatbelt wearers than urban areas. States like Indiana with a large rural population may be a factor in the total rates for the region.