When Did Wearing a Seatbelt Become a Law—History of Seatbelt Laws in the U.S.

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When Did Wearing a Seatbelt Become a Law in the USA?

Having a seatbelt on is a regular part of driving and traveling nowadays, but this wasn’t always the case. Introducing this life-saving item across the U.S. took some time, but the struggle was worth it. Once its use became mandatory, the number of fatalities in car crashes reduced significantly.

When did wearing a seatbelt become a law in the USA? When were the first seatbelt laws introduced in each U.S. state, and do they count as primary or secondary enforcement? How can seatbelt tickets influence your driving record or insurance rates?

In this article, we help you piece together the answers to these and many more questions! Besides untangling seatbelt laws, you will learn how to —the world’s first AI Consumer Champion—to dispute seatbelt citations with ease.

A Brief History of Seatbelts

Here’s a short timeline showing the seatbelt evolution through history:

  • Late 1800s—A British engineer George Cayley makes the first draft of the first seatbelt model to help pilots remain in their gliders
  • 1885—Edward J. Claghorn introduces the first patented safety belt made for taxi seats
  • 1930s—Medical practitioners across the USA start equipping their vehicles with safety belts and advocating regular use of car seatbelts
  • Early 1950s—Hunter Shelden designs the first retractable seatbelt
  • 1954—Motor Vehicle Seatbelt Committee implements lap belt use during races
  • 1958—Nils Bohlin, a Swedish engineer hired by Volvo, invents the first three-point seatbelt
  • 1966—National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposes the first seatbelt regulations in the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966

When Was the First Seatbelt Law Passed in the USA?

When the first car seatbelts were made, their primary purpose was to keep drivers and passengers in their seats. The safety concern entered the picture years later.

Title 49, Chapter 301 of the United States Code was the first federal seatbelt law. This act required all motor vehicles to be adequately equipped with safety belts for all sitting positions. It came into effect on January 1, 1968.

Even though each car had to have proper seatbelts, there were no regulations proposing mandatory safety belt use. It became a must once all state-specific seatbelt laws came into effect.

When Did the Seatbelt Law Go Into Effect in Each U.S. State?

Below is the table showing the exact year when each state’s seatbelt law was adopted:


In 1997, the New Hampshire government introduced the rule that anyone younger than 18 must be buckled in appropriately when in a moving car, but NH is the only state that currently doesn’t have a law requiring adult drivers and passengers to wear a seatbelt.

Seatbelt Ticket—Primary or Secondary Offense

If you fail to comply with the general or child seatbelt laws and get caught by the police officer, you will get a seatbelt citation, but the prices vary from state to state. Depending on your location, violating seatbelt laws can be treated as:

  1. Primary offense—The law enforcement officer has the right to stop you if they notice you aren’t buckled up, even if you didn’t commit any other offense
  2. Secondary offense—The police can’t pull you over for removing your seatbelt unless you have made some other offense

In most U.S. states, seatbelt citations don’t count as moving violations. It means they don’t add demerit points to your driver’s license or increase your car insurance rates. To avoid additional costs and court hearings, you shouldn’t avoid paying your ticket or break the proposed payment deadline.

Get Valuable Assistance in Appealing Your Seatbelt Tickets From DoNotPay

Regardless of the reason for getting a seatbelt fine, no one is happy to pay huge amounts to the ticket authorities. If you are looking for the simplest way to get your ticket dismissed and save a lot of money, give DoNotPay a go!

The secret lies in a user-friendly tool featuring a chatbot that asks you a few simple questions about your case. Once we get all the necessary details, our app will craft a unique appeal letter for you in a couple of minutes and forward it to the right address. You don’t need to collect any documents or visit the authorities’ offices—everything is done virtually, and the platform is accessible from any device!

Here are the instructions for getting your dispute letter:

  1. account from any preferred web browser
  2. Enter Seatbelt Ticket in the search field
  3. Select the person who committed the offense—a driver, a passenger, or a child in the back seat
  4. Choose a valid argument for your dispute
  5. Take a snapshot of your citation, upload it, and give us more details about the case

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