According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, 96.4 percent of Washington drivers buckle up. Remembering to buckle up could save your life in the event of a car accident.
If you have any children under the age of 16 years of age riding in the vehicle then you must ensure they are wearing the safety belt or securely fastened in an approved child restraint device prior to operating your motor vehicle. There are limited exceptions to this rule which can be found in RCW 46.61.688 below. One of these exceptions include if you possess written verification from a licenses physician that you are unable to wear the safety belt for physical or medical reasons. Failure to comply with this law will result in a traffic infraction.
Additionally, the traffic safety commission conducts an educational campaign to raise awareness to the importance of proper restraints for child passengers and adults. You can learn more by visiting wtsc.wa.gov.
The law requiring your compliance with seat belt and safety restrain use as well as a mandate for the educational program are as follows:
RCW 46.61.688: Safety belts, use required—Penalties—Exemptions.
(1) For the purposes of this section, “motor vehicle” includes:
(a) “Buses,” meaning motor vehicles with motive power, except trailers, designed to carry more than ten passengers;
(b) “Medium-speed electric vehicle” meaning a self-propelled, electrically powered four-wheeled motor vehicle, equipped with a roll cage or crush-proof body design, whose speed attainable in one mile is more than thirty miles per hour but not more than thirty-five miles per hour and otherwise meets or exceeds the federal regulations set forth in 49 C.F.R. Sec. 571.500;
(c) “Motorcycle,” meaning a three-wheeled motor vehicle that is designed (i) so that the driver rides on a seat in a partially or completely enclosed seating area that is equipped with safety belts and (ii) to be steered with a steering wheel;
(d) “Multipurpose passenger vehicles,” meaning motor vehicles with motive power, except trailers, designed to carry ten persons or less that are constructed either on a truck chassis or with special features for occasional off-road operation;
(e) “Neighborhood electric vehicle,” meaning a self-propelled, electrically powered four-wheeled motor vehicle whose speed attainable in one mile is more than twenty miles per hour and not more than twenty-five miles per hour and conforms to federal regulations under 49 C.F.R. Sec. 571.500;
(f) “Passenger cars,” meaning motor vehicles with motive power, except multipurpose passenger vehicles, motorcycles, or trailers, designed for carrying ten passengers or less; and
(g) “Trucks,” meaning motor vehicles with motive power, except trailers, designed primarily for the transportation of property.
(2)(a) This section only applies to:
(i) Motor vehicles that meet the manual seat belt safety standards as set forth in 49 C.F.R. Sec. 571.208;
(ii) Motorcycles, when equipped with safety belts that meet the standards set forth in 49 C.F.R. Part 571; and
(iii) Neighborhood electric vehicles and medium-speed electric vehicles that meet the seat belt standards as set forth in 49 C.F.R. Sec. 571.500.
(b) This section does not apply to a vehicle occupant for whom no safety belt is available when all designated seating positions as required under 49 C.F.R. Part 571 are occupied.
(3) Every person sixteen years of age or older operating or riding in a motor vehicle shall wear the safety belt assembly in a properly adjusted and securely fastened manner.
(4) No person may operate a motor vehicle unless all child passengers under the age of sixteen years are either: (a) Wearing a safety belt assembly or (b) are securely fastened into an approved child restraint device.
(5) A person violating this section shall be issued a notice of traffic infraction under chapter 46.63 RCW. A finding that a person has committed a traffic infraction under this section shall be contained in the driver’s abstract but shall not be available to insurance companies or employers.
(6) Failure to comply with the requirements of this section does not constitute negligence, nor may failure to wear a safety belt assembly be admissible as evidence of negligence in any civil action.
(7) This section does not apply to an operator or passenger who possesses written verification from a licensed physician that the operator or passenger is unable to wear a safety belt for physical or medical reasons.
(8) The state patrol may adopt rules exempting operators or occupants of farm vehicles, construction equipment, and vehicles that are required to make frequent stops from the requirement of wearing safety belts.
RCW 46.61.6885: Child restraints, seat belts—Educational campaign.
The traffic safety commission shall conduct an educational campaign using all available methods to raise public awareness of the importance of properly restraining child passengers and the value of seat belts to adult motorists. The traffic safety commission shall report to the transportation committees of the legislature on the campaign and results observed on the highways. The first report is due December 1, 2000, and annually thereafter.
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