Seat Belts & Car Seats
Prior to 1994, South Dakota had one of the lowest safety belt usage rates in the United States, with only 26% of front seat passengers choosing to buckle up. Since the passage of the safety belt law, seat belt usage has been steadily increasing.
While things have definitely improved, we still have much work to do. South Dakota is far behind the national seat belt usage rate of 88%, with rates being as high as 91% in other states with primary seat belt laws.
The South Dakota Office of Highway Safety works to educate the public about the life-saving benefits of seat belts, along with working beside communities, organizations and other programs on seat belt initiatives.
Seat Belt Facts
- Nearly half of those killed in vehicle crashes in 2015 were unrestrained.
- Seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury to those in the front seat by 45% and by 60% for those in light trucks.
Car Seat Facts
- Children should stay in rear-facing car seats as long as possible, preferably until age 2.
- South Dakota offers a car seat distribution program for eligible families.
- Children overheat five times faster than adults. Always check the backseat before you leave your vehicle.
- Most children will also need a booster seat until the ages of 8-12.
Seat Belt Campaigns
The 2017 “Make It Click” campaign is designed to make buckling up a habit, reminding people with billboards, bus wraps, radio, crosswalk graphics, seat belt graphics on sliding doors and other places they’re behind the wheel.
For more information on campaign initiatives, contact us or see the campaign library.
Occupant Protection FAQs
Every operator and front seat passenger of a passenger vehicle operated on a public highway in this state shall wear a properly adjusted and fastened safety seat belt system, required to be installed in the passenger vehicle when manufactured pursuant to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard Number 208 (49 C.F.R. 571.208) in effect January 1, 1989, at all times when the vehicle is in forward motion. The driver of the passenger vehicle shall secure or cause to be secured a properly adjusted and fastened safety seat belt system on any passenger in the front seat who is at least five years of age but younger than eighteen years of age.
A passenger vehicle is any self-propelled vehicle intended primarily for use and operation on the public highways including passenger cars, station wagons, vans, taxicabs, emergency vehicles, motor homes, trucks, and pickups. The term does not include motorcycles, motor scooters, motor bicycles, motorized bicycles, passenger buses, and school buses. Farm tractors or implements of husbandry designed primarily or exclusively for farm operations are also not considered passenger vehicles.
South Dakota's law provides for several exceptions to the requirement to wear safety belts:
- If your vehicle was manufactured before September 1, 1973;
- If you have a written statement from your doctor describing a medical reason why you should not wear a safety belt;
- If you are a passenger in a vehicle that was not equipped with safety belts because federal law didn't require them when it was manufactured;
- If you are a rural mail carrier for the United States Postal Service, while delivering mail; or any person delivering periodicals or newspapers on an assigned home delivery route.
The fine is only $25, but the consequences of not wearing a safety belt could be even greater. If you are involved in a traffic crash while not wearing a safety belt, your odds of being injured or killed increase dramatically.
The shoulder harness on my seat belt rubs against my neck and bothers me. Is it okay to put the shoulder strap behind my back or under my arm?
Absolutely not. Besides being against the law, this is very dangerous. The safety belt law requires the safety belt system to be properly fastened and adjusted. Failure to use safety belts the way they are designed reduces their effectiveness, and could result in serious injury or death.
Seatbelts and Car Seats Documents
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