North Dakota’s Primary Seat Belt Law Starting August 1, 2023

Starting August 1, 2023, the North Dakota seat belt law becoming a primary enforcement goes into effect. This change was passed by the ND Legislature this past session. This means no other violation is required for a driver to get pulled over by law enforcement and issued a seat belt citation. The law will also require all vehicle occupants to wear a seat belt, regardless of where they are sitting in the vehicle.

  • A primary seat belt law has a greater effect on reducing deaths and nonfatal injuries than a secondary law.
  • Research shows increased seat belt use with a primary law vs. a secondary law can result in up to a 10-12% increase in observed seat belt use. (NHTSA)
  • Switching from a secondary law to a primary law reduces passenger vehicle driver deaths by 7%. (NHTSA)
  • Seat belt use is lower in states with secondary enforcement seat belt laws, or no seat belt laws compared to states with primary enforcement laws. (NHTSA)
  • This primary seat belt law does not represent a new law, it simply changes existing North Dakota law as follows:
    • Changes enforcement from secondary to primary.
    • Changes the requirement for seat belt use from front seat occupants to ALL occupants.

(Statistics and information provided by the Vision Zero ND website –

“Here at the North Dakota Safety Council, we’re so pleased by the primary seat belt law going into effect. We know without a doubt lives will be saved, and more loved ones will be going home to their families because of this change.”

You may be asking why the change to the existing seat belt law?

The simple answer, to save lives. The number one contributing factor in motor vehicle crash deaths in North Dakota is not wearing a seatbelt.

  • Preliminary data for 2022 shows that 69% of crash fatalities were unbelted where seat belts were present in the vehicle.
  • More people die in motor vehicle crashes in North Dakota from being unbelted than other common contributing crash factors such as drunk driving, distracted driving or speeding.
  • A Primary Seat Belt Law will decrease motor vehicle crash deaths in North Dakota. Seat belts are the single most effective traffic safety device to prevent death and injury in a motor vehicle crash.
  • From 2017-2021, 522 people died on North Dakota’s roads. Of those people killed in vehicle crashes where seat belts apply (excluding motorcycles, bicyclists and pedestrians), 51% were not wearing a seat belt. (NDDOT)

(Statistics and information provided by the Vision Zero ND website –