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Louisiana pickup truck drivers don't always buckle up

How likely are you to buckle up? It may depend on the vehicle you're driving.

The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission studied seatbelt use earlier this year in 334 sites across the state. Here are the seatbelt usage rates they found, broken down by the type of vehicle each person was driving:

  • Vans - 92 percent of drivers
  • SUVs - 90 percent of drivers
  • Cars - 89 percent of drivers
  • Trucks - 82 percent of drivers

Still, drivers of all types of vehicles were far more likely to buckle up than passengers in the backseat. The study found that only about 66 percent of people in rear seats were wearing seatbelts.

While seatbelt use is up across Louisiana, the state is still working to encourage higher usage rates through "click it or ticket" enforcement waves. All passengers must wear a seat belt or other restraint, even if they are sitting in the back, or face fines of up to $50.

More importantly, passengers who don't wear seatbelts are at a much higher risk of being injured in a car accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, unbelted backseat passengers are three times more likely to be killed in a crash than belted passengers.

What if someone hits me while I'm not wearing a seatbelt?

There's no doubt that seatbelts save lives. But what if you aren't wearing a seatbelt and another driver hits you? Can you still seek damages for your injuries?

In Louisiana, the answer is a solid yes. Under state law, courts aren't allowed to reduce the amount of damages awarded after an accident because a victim wasn't wearing a seatbelt at the time. This varies from state to state, however, so some insurance companies might try to argue that you can't receive full compensation if you weren't wearing your seatbelt. If this is the case, your attorney can help make sure insurance companies treat you fairly.

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