Seatbelt Usage in North Carolina
North Carolina has had a seatbelt law in place since October 1985, but it did not become a primary state until December 2006. This means that after this update, a police officer can stop someone for not wearing a seatbelt even if they weren’t breaking any other traffic law. The seatbelt law is in effect for anyone 16 years old and up regardless of which seat they are in.
The maximum fine for someone with a first-time offense for not wearing a seatbelt is $25. In addition, North Carolina has a child safety seat law for children aged seven and younger. If the child is not placed in a safety restraint seat, the driver may be subject to a $25 fine as well.
North Carolina hovers slightly above the national average for seatbelt usage. The US average is 86 percent while the average for North Carolina in 2012 was 88 percent. In fact, the state has remained around the same since 2007. In that year, the rate was 88.8 percent for seatbelt use. In 2014, that rate was up to 90.6 percent.
The state of North Carolina is part of the South region, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The region as a whole is in second place for the highest rate of seatbelt users. It ranks behind the West at 89.2 percent.
Nationwide, more people in urban areas buckle up than those driving in rural areas. Seatbelt wear is also up on weekends and during rush hour overuse during non-rush hours. In addition, more people who travel in passenger cars, SUVs and vans wear seatbelts than those who ride in pickup trucks. Another statistic from the NHTSA is that heavy traffic causes more people to put on their seatbelts than light or moderate traffic.