Archived Story

Ask Trooper Rob: Are seat belts required for back seat passengers?

Published 6:01pm Friday, March 30, 2012

Q: I heard that you don’t have to wear seat belts if you are in the back seat of a vehicle. Is this true? My husband and I thought you had to regardless of age. We are slightly confused about this. Any insight on this would be helpful. — Nikki from Ionia

A: Nikki, MCL 257.710e(3) states, “Each operator and front seat passenger of a motor vehicle operated on a street or highway in this state shall wear a properly adjusted and fastened safety belt…” Continuing, MCL 257e(3)(b)(5) states, “…each operator of a motor vehicle transporting a child 4 years of age or older but less than 16 years of age in a motor vehicle shall secure the child in a properly adjusted and fastened safety belt and seated as required under this section.” Obviously, there are requirements for children under 4, who have to be in a car seat and children who are 4 years or older up to age 8 or 4 feet 9 inches being in a booster seat. Basically, this section of law states that all passengers under 16 years of age must properly wear a seat belt. ALL front seat passengers must properly wear the seat belt. So, by not specifying the back seat, it’s saying if you are 16 years of age or older, in the back seat, a seatbelt is not required. However, of course, we still recommend the wearing of the seatbelt. Regardless of age, you are still able to be ejected from the vehicle or sustain severe head and spinal cord injuries when being thrown about inside the vehicle.

Q: I read in a boating magazine, rather than carry your actual driver’s license while boating, just carry a copy of your license, and thus eliminating the chance of losing or damaging the original.  It also said the same is true while driving a car. Therefore, I now keep a copy of my driver’s license attached to my registration and proof of insurance, thinking that I would still be driving legally if I happened to accidently leave my wallet at home. — Dave from Ionia

A: Dave, MCL 257.311 states, “The licensee shall have his or her operator’s or chauffeur’s license, in his or her immediate possession at all times when operating a motor vehicle, and shall display the same upon demand of any police officer, who shall identify himself or herself as such.” You must have your operator’s license with you.

While patrolling M-29 north of the St. Clair Post on April 14, 1942, Trooper Charles Wood, 28, lost control of his motorcycle when he leaned over to adjust the sputtering carburetor with his fingers. The bike struck and bounced off a bridge and an iron fence, then skidded along the shoulder of the road and struck a culvert on a private drive before it came to rest.

Tpr. Wood was pronounced dead at the scene. Tpr. Wood enlisted in the MSP on Nov. 1, 1939, and was the thirteenth Trooper to die in the line of duty. Tpr. Wood was also the last to die as a result of a patrol motorcycle crash. After his death, the department retired its motorcycle fleet, not only because of so many trooper deaths, but also because of wartime restrictions on manpower and equipment.

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