Putting on seat belt | Deepblue4you/E+/Getty Images

Dear Driving for Dollars,

My mother-in-law visited me from New York City recently, and she refused to buckle her seat belt when she sat in the rear seat of my car. She always rides in taxicabs around the city, and she said that no one ever wears a seat belt in the back.

She seems to think it’s OK to skip the seat belt in the back because she’s only going to slide into the front seat in a crash. I don’t think that’s true. Exactly how important is it to wear a seat belt in the back seat of a car?

— Dottie

Deepblue4you/E+/Getty Images

Dear Dottie,

You are absolutely right, Dottie. It is just as important to use a seat belt in the rear seat of a car as it is upfront. The fact is that seat belts — in the front or rear — protect people by holding them in a seated position and reducing the risk of injury and even death.

Rear seat passengers are 3 times more likely to die in a crash if they are unbuckled, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).

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Lives are saved by wearing back seat belts

In 2013 alone (the most recent data available), there were 883 rear seat occupants aged 8 or older who died in a car crash that were unbuckled. Had those people been using seat belts, the GHSA estimates that more than 400 of them could still be alive today.

If you’re looking for a good rate on an auto loan, check out Bankrate.com.

Not only does the seat belt reduce the amount of movement that a person experiences in a crash, which should reduce injuries, it also holds them in a position to help rear seat air bags or air-bag curtains to provide better protection.

Sometimes car accidents aren’t really accidents. To learn more, read “Was that car crash staged?”

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