Un-belted rear passengers can become human missiles in a crash and injure themselves and those in the front seats, a recent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study reveals. A rear passenger can be propelled into the back of the front seat pushing the front seat passenger/driver into his or her airbag and steering wheel.
With more people using ride-hailing services like Uber and Lift, this issue takes on more and more prominence. If you think you are safe or safer in the back seat, you are wrong. The report concluded that, in 2015, 1,018 unrestrained rear-seat occupants died in auto accidents.
Bottom line: You need to buckle up no matter where you are sitting and drivers (for the protection of their passengers and themselves) should make sure that everyone is secured before going into drive. Further, it is illegal in New York, for you or your passenger to be un-buckled (3 points for a child seat belt ticket and 0 points for an adult). So be safe and avoid a traffic ticket rather than taking a silly risk.