Seat belt sabotage: Roughly 1/3 of Americans don’t buckle up in rideshares

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Taylor Covington

Content Researcher

As aqualitative researcher for The Zebra, Taylor collected, organized, and analyzed data to shine a light on trends in the insurance industry and bey…


Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft claim they are making transportation more secure and convenient, but new survey findings reveal that when it comes to seat belts, rideshares aren’t as safe as other vehicles on the road.

We surveyed 1,000 Americans to discover the rates of seat belt usage in rideshares compared to their own vehicles and found that an alarming number of Americans are skipping the seat belt in their Ubers and Lyfts.

Our findings revealed that:

  • 28% of Americans admit they don’t buckle up when riding in the back seat of a rideshare.
  • 9 in 10 Americans report that they buckle up in their own cars.

Additional studies have found 1 in 4 Americans don’t wear their seat belts in the back seat because they believe it’s safer than the front seat, yet rideshares may be to blame for a 3% uptick in fatal traffic accidents from 2010 to 2017.

28% of Americans don’t buckle up in rideshares

More than 1 in 4 Americans admit that they don’t always buckle up when traveling in the back seat of a rideshare vehicle, compared with just 1 in 10 Americans who say they don’t wear their seat belt in their own cars.

Our survey also revealed that passengers aged 45 to 54 and 18 to 24 were the least likely to wear their seat belts and that women were 18% more likely to buckle up than men. Men are also more likely to engage in risky driving practices, and crashes involving male drivers are more likely to be fatal.

An additional study found that adults who attended college were more likely to buckle up than adults with less education.


Why aren’t Americans buckling up?

Americans are 18% less likely to buckle up in a rideshare compared to their own car, according to our survey results. So why are Americans more likely to skip the seat belt when they aren’t driving themselves?

There is a lack of perceived risk for adult riders in the back seat, especially those riding short distances. An IIHS study revealed that 25% of those who didn’t buckle up did so because they believe that the back seat is safer than the front seat. Yet this same study contradicts the lack of risk by highlighting that unbuckled rear-seat passengers are eight times as likely as buckled rear-seat riders to be injured or killed in a crash. Additionally, a 2013 study found that drivers are about twice as likely to be fatally injured in a crash if the left rear passenger was unrestrained.

Traveling short distances was another reason back seat passengers skipped the seat belt. Four out of five respondents of the IIHS study also reported that they don’t buckle up when riding in the back seat for short trips or rideshares.

Rideshares may be responsible for a 3% increase in fatal traffic accidents from 2010–2017

While many Americans are skipping the seat belt because they perceive rideshares as safer, data isn’t on their side. Before the rideshare trend exploded in cities across the nation, the number of fatal traffic accidents had been falling, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But when ridesharing companies first launched in 2010, this trend began reversing.

A recent study found that in a given metro area, the intensity of rideshare use was linked to an increase in auto deaths. This same study also calculated an annual 3% increase in auto fatalities nationwide after ridesharing was introduced, which translated to 987 lives lost each year and a $9.5 billion cost from rideshare-related fatalities.


Americans are more likely to buckle up in their own cars

The good news? While Americans may be skipping the seat belt in their rideshares, they’re much more likely to buckle up in their own cars. Only 10% of Americans surveyed report not wearing seat belts in their own vehicles.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), passengers that wear their seat belts reduce their risk of fatal injury in a crash by up to 45%.


Whether you’re in a rideshare or in your own car, you should get in the habit of buckling up every time. Wearing your seat belt is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in the event of a car crash.

In addition to safety risks, skipping the seat belt can also impact your wallet. A majority of states regularly enforce primary seat belt laws, which means you can be ticketed if you don’t buckle up, and your car insurance rates could increase.



This study was conducted for The Zebra using Google Consumer Surveys. The sample consisted of no less than 1,000 completed responses per question. Post-stratification weighting has been applied to ensure an accurate and reliable representation of the total population. This survey was conducted in January 2020.