Press Release - 05-18-17

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Thursday, May 18, 2017


Joe Morrissey
[email protected]       

Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee announces “Click it or Ticket” Enforcement and Awareness Campaign to Begin May 22

 Partnership with Xfinity Driver Ross Chastain to Help New York Maintain Record Level of Seat Belt Compliance


The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) today announced New York State’s participation in a nationwide enforcement and awareness campaign to encourage drivers, passengers and children to fasten their seatbelts.  GTSC is also continuing its partnership with Xfinity Driver Ross Chastain on an educational campaign to encourage people to buckle up under the theme of “Protect Your Melon.”  The enforcement campaign will run from May 22 to June 4.

A kickoff event took place at the State Fairgrounds in Syracuse today.


B-ROLL VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube.

SOUND BYTES from the press conference are available on YouTube. Lower-third graphics for the sound bytes, in order:

Ross Chastain / Xfinity Driver

Chuck DeWeese / Governor's Traffic Safety Committee

PHOTOS of the event are available for use on websites and in print on DMV's Flickr page.


In addition, on May 22, New York will be among 24 states participating in a Border to Border enforcement campaign where law enforcement from adjoining states will be ticketing people for failing to wear their seat belts. There will be checkpoints on highways that connect to neighboring states. That enforcement activity will occur from 4-8 p.m., a time selected because seat belt usage is traditionally lower during the evening hours.


            “In New York State, we have had tremendous success in getting people to buckle up, resulting in record seat belt compliance rates two years in a row,” said Terri Egan, GTSC Acting Chair and Executive Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. “Still, 32 percent of the people killed in car crashes between 2013 and 2015 were not wearing seat belts. These tragic losses are completely preventable.  Please buckle up: it is one of the most important decisions you can make every day.”


            State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said, “As the summer travel season begins, we are joining with our law enforcement partners to strongly encourage the proper use of seat belts and child safety seats in motor vehicles. Wearing a seat belt is a simple measure that dramatically reduces the risk of severe injury or death in a crash. We will continue our efforts to reduce the senseless tragedies caused by those who ignore New York’s seat belt laws.”


            New York State Police and local law enforcement agencies will use marked and unmarked vehicles, checkpoints, and roving details to aggressively ticket unbelted drivers. New York law allows police to stop motorists for not wearing a seat belt even if they are committing no other traffic infractions.


            The state will also continue its “Protect Your Melon” campaign to encourage seat belt use. The campaign is a partnership between JD Motorsports, Xfinity Series Driver Ross Chastain, and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee. To raise awareness about the importance of wearing seatbelts, 1.4 million watermelons labeled with "Protect Your Melon" and "Buckle Up!" will be sold in grocery stores throughout the state.


            “The ‘Protect Your Melon’ campaign is meant to plant a seed in people’s minds so that they remember not only to buckle up themselves but to be sure their front-seat passengers, and especially their children anywhere in the vehicle, are properly restrained,” Egan said.


Chastain’s No. 4 Xfinity Series racecar is adorned with the words "Protect Your Melon" and the campaign’s logo.  Chastain will also be racing this August at Watkins Glen with the logo and other “Buckle Up NY” messaging affixed to his race car. 


"As a driver in one of the most dangerous sports, seat belt safety is so important,” said Ross Chastain. “I am always mindful of seat belt safety, not only behind the wheel of my race car, but also in my everyday life. It is an honor to continue our relationship in 2017 with the GTSC and Department of Motor Vehicles to increase awareness and urge motorists to always buckle up."


In 1984, New York was the first state in the nation to pass legislation requiring drivers and front-seat passengers to use seat belts. New York State last year matched its record compliance rate of 92 percent for the second consecutive year. For seven years, the state’s compliance rate has been at or above 90 percent. Nationally, the compliance rate is 88.5 percent.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that seat belts saved 13,941 lives in 2015 nationally and could have saved another 2,804 if people who weren’t wearing them had done so.  In New York, NHTSA estimates seat belts saved 443 lives in 2015 and another seven children under age 5 were saved by car seats. The NHTSA also estimated another 55 lives could have been saved with 100 percent compliance.


            As part of its effort to make sure drivers and passengers are safe, the Empire State regularly offers training on how to properly install child safety restraints. GTSC's Child Passenger Safety Program, state and local police agencies, along with various community safety partners, offer free child car seat inspections by certified child passenger safety technicians year-round. Information for parents and caregivers is available at


            The NHTSA offers guidance too for pregnant women on how to properly wear a seat belt while expecting. You can read their recommendations at the NHTSA website.


            You can learn more about seat belt safety on the DMV’s website or the GTSC’s website.