Considering how effective seat belts have proven to be since their invention, there are still people who choose to drive without buckling up. Seat belts have saved more than 374,000 lives since 1975, according to the National Safety Council data. Indiana has clear laws on using seat belts while driving that every motorist should be aware of.

Back View from a Cars Mirror

What Does Indiana Law Say About Seat Belts?  

All states in the U.S. follow either the primary or secondary enforcement laws for seat belts. Primary laws state that a police officer can pull a driver over and issue a ticket for not wearing a seat belt without any other traffic offense. In states that follow secondary enforcement, an officer can only issue a ticket for not wearing a seat belt if there is another citable traffic infraction.

Indiana has a primary seat belt law, which means you can be stopped and ticketed solely for not being strapped in. As outlined in Indiana Code 9-19-10-2, all drivers and passengers over the age of 16 must wear seatbelts when the vehicle is in motion. This applies to both front and back-seat passengers​​​​.

Children and Seat Belt Laws

Each year, there is a devastating number of little ones who fall victim to fatal crashes. In 2021, motor vehicle accidents claimed the lives of 711 children under 13 across the country. Nearly 36% of these kids were found to be not wearing seat belts, suggesting many of these tragedies could have been avoided.

This is why state and federal organizations are constantly reviewing and updating guidelines to help parents make sure their kids are correctly buckled up.

Indiana takes the safety of young passengers very seriously. The state’s laws require that infants and small children who are not big enough for a car’s standard seat be secured in a car seat that meets all the federal safety standards.

You must select the right type of seat and position it correctly in your car or truck, considering your child’s age and body size. If a child is found unrestrained, the driver can be held responsible for the violation.

Birth to 12 months

Children under 1 year should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. This includes infant-only seats and convertible or all-in-one car seats with higher height and weight limits.

1 to 3 years

Keep children rear-facing as long as possible until they reach the top height or weight limit allowed by the car seat’s manufacturer. After outgrowing the rear-facing seat, they can move to a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether.

4 to 7 years

Continue using a forward-facing seat with a harness and tether until the child reaches the top height or weight limit set by the manufacturer. After this, switch them to a booster seat, still in the back seat.

8 to 12 years

Children from 8 to 12 must use a child restraint or seat belt in all seating positions in all vehicles. They should use a booster seat until they are big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. The lap belt must lie comfortably across the upper thighs, not the stomach, and the shoulder belt should lie snugly across the shoulder and chest, not crossing the neck or face. Any child 12 and under must sit in the back seat if available.

Frequently Asked Questions on Seat Belt Laws in Indiana

Do seat belt laws apply to commercial vehicles in Indiana?

Yes, seat belt laws apply to both drivers and passengers in commercial vehicles.

Can not wearing a seat belt affect a personal injury claim in Indiana?

Indiana follows a modified comparative fault system. If you were injured in a car accident and were not wearing a seatbelt, it may impact the compensation you receive. Your recovery could be reduced if it’s determined that your failure to wear a seat belt contributed to your injuries.

Can passengers in the bed of a pickup truck be exempt from seat belt requirements in Indiana?

In Indiana, passengers riding in the bed of a pickup truck are generally exempt from seat belt requirements. However, it is essential to check for any specific conditions or age restrictions related to this exemption.

Do seat belt laws in Indiana apply to school buses?

In Indiana, child safety restraint systems are mandated for school buses responsible for transporting preschool children, while other school buses are not subject to this requirement. School districts have the flexibility to either install seat belts in existing buses or procure new buses already equipped with them.

What are the consequences for a driver if a minor passenger is not wearing a seat belt in Indiana?

Indiana law holds the driver responsible for ensuring that all passengers under the age of 18 are properly restrained. A driver may face penalties if a minor passenger is found not wearing a seat belt.

Who Is Exempt from Using a Seat Belt in Indiana?

There are some situations and drivers who qualify for an exemption from the seat belt laws in Indiana:

  • People who are operating vehicles used for occupational farming activities
  • Employees of the U.S. Postal Service who are making frequent stops to deliver packages (they are exempted only when actively making deliveries)
  • People traveling inside the treatment area of an ambulance
  • People occupying the residential portion of a recreational vehicle

Totalled car at night getting towed

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Car Accident Attorneys

Were you or a loved one injured in a collision in Indiana and aren’t sure how the seat belt laws might affect your claim? At Wagner Reese, LLP, our proven lawyers for car accidents are here to guide you and provide you with the strongest legal representation to protect your rights. Contact us today or call (866) 440-1305 for a free case evaluation.