Seatbelt Usage in Missouri
Missouri enacted the first state seatbelt law in September 1985, and it is a secondary enforcement state with the exception of children under the age of 16. This means that a police officer can only stop a person for not wearing a seatbelt if they are a minor. In all other instances, they may only give the person a ticket if they were stopped for another reason.
The seatbelt law applies to anyone who is 16 years old or older sitting in the front seat. There is no law applicable to the rear seat. Missouri also has a law for child restraint seats. It is one of the most complex laws in the country. All children who are three years old and younger must be in a child restraint seat. Those aged two and younger must be in one that is rear facing. Children who are between the ages of four and seven must be in a booster seat or restraint seat. Children above the age of four but under the age of eight must be in a booster seat or safety belt. Children who are 16 years old or above may sit in the front seat.
Missouri had a seatbelt usage law rate of 79 percent in 2012 compared to the US average of 86 percent. The state has shown an increase since 2007 when the rate was 77.2 percent. In 2014, the rate was up to 78.8 percent. The lower rate coincides with, the higher traffic fatality rate, which was 14.3 per 100,000 population, which compares to the national rate of 10.9.
Missouri is part of the Midwest region, which has a rate of 81.7 percent for seatbelt use, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It ranks at the bottom of the list for the four regions.