Seatbelt Usage in New Jersey
West Virginia first enacted a seatbelt law in September of 1993. It was not until July 2013 that it became a primary enforcement state. This means that a police officer can stop someone just for not wearing a seatbelt. They need no other reason for making a traffic stop.
The seatbelt law applies to anyone eight years old and up in the front seat and those who are between the ages of eight and 17 in all seats. The penalty for a seatbelt violation can be a fine up to $25 for a first offense. West Virginia also has a child safety seat law. Children who are seven years old and younger must be kept in a safety seat. Violation of this law could result in a fine up to $20. There are no seatbelt laws for adults riding in the rear seat of a vehicle.
The state has a seatbelt usage rate similar to the national average. The rate for West Virginia was 84 percent in 2012, while the national average was 86 percent. In addition, the state had a traffic fatality rate of 14.5 in 2015, compared to the US average of 10.9 deaths per 100,000 population.
West Virginia has seen a decline in the number of people wearing seatbelts since 2007. That year, the state had a rate of 89.6 percent, but it has since dropped from that high point. In 2010, the rate of use reached a low point of 82.1 percent before rebounding slightly. The rate in 2014 was 87.8 percent.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), West Virginia is part of the South region. As a whole, it ranks second for seatbelt use with 89.2 percent, right behind the West with 95 percent. As the rate of seatbelt use goes up, traffic fatalities often go down.