• Key point. The failure of a church to require passengers in a church vehicle to wear seat belts will not necessarily make the church legally responsible for deaths or injuries resulting from the failure of passengers to wear seat belts.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court addressed the important question of whether a church can be liable for the death of a passenger in a church vehicle who was not wearing a seat belt. A church borrowed a van from one of its members to transport six children to a summer youth camp. The van was driven by a volunteer driver. In the front seat of the van were the driver and an adult passenger. There were three girls in the middle seat of the van, and three girls in the back seat. There were seat belts for only five of the six girls in the back of the van, one of which was stuffed down in the seat and out of view. The driver and front seat passenger both wore their seat belts, but none of the six girls in the back of van did. One of the girls was killed when the van was struck by another vehicle en route to camp. The victim was seated directly behind the driver. While a seat belt was available for her use, she was not wearing it.