Skip to main content
You can also sort pages by filters.
Table of Contents
Download the Full Book

As ride share services become more widely used, additional focus is needed to address the use of seat belts and child restraints in these vehicles. A survey of parents with children under 5 found that nearly 60% reported having transported children differently in ride share vehicles than they would in their personal vehicles, including holding children on laps and allowing children to ride without car seats (Owens et al., 2019). Additionally, many ride-share drivers were unaware of their responsibility when transporting children in their vehicles (Owens et al., 2019). A study of crash-involved children from birth to 19 years old in rear seats of vehicles in New York City found restraint use overall to be much lower in taxis than in other passenger vehicles (51% versus 87%). Children under age 8 were significantly less likely to be in a child restraint (5.9% versus 50%). Children riding in taxis were more likely to have injury and twice as likely to be diagnosed with traumatic brain injury (Prince et al., 2019).

Other studies have found that seat belt use among adults is lower in rear seats (Beck et al., 2019; Taylor & Daily, 2019). To better understand seat belt use behavior in the rear seat, Jermakian and Weast (2018) conducted a survey of adults who did not consistently wear seat belts as rear-seat passengers. They found four general categories to explain not using restraint: ambivalence, misperception of safety benefits, design and usability, and the law. Interestingly, of those who typically rode as rear-seat passengers in vehicles for hire (such as ride share vehicles or taxis) only 57% reported consistently wearing their seat belt compared to 74% among passengers of personal vehicles. This was confirmed by a small observational study conducted by Nemire (2017). Rear seat belt use was lower in taxis compared to personal vehicles. Rideshare vehicles were also observed but the results were inconclusive.

It is not yet clear how seat belt use may be affected by emerging vehicle technologies and the movement towards vehicles with increasing automation. The changing role of the driver to a supervising passenger, driver seats that provide more space during automated trips on the highway, new seat configurations for vehicles that no longer require manual controls, and perceptions of risk could all affect seat belt use. Meanwhile, new driver monitoring systems (DMS) that use in-vehicle cameras provide new methods to measure, evaluate, and enforce driver engagement and compliance. While still early, it is important to consider how technology might change seat belt use in the future so that occupant protection stakeholders can anticipate potential challenges.