Press Release - 08-02-2019

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Friday, August 2, 2019

Lisa Koumjian
[email protected]

Darren Boysen
[email protected]  



Chastain to Meet With Fans and Encourage Seat Belt Use

JD Motorsports Race Cars Will Sport the Protect Your Melon Campaign Logo

New York State’s Seat Belt Compliance Rate Continues to Top National Average


As racing gets underway today at Watkins Glen International, NASCAR XFINITY series driver Ross Chastain and JD Motorsports join the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to promote the importance of seat belt use through the “Protect Your Melon” campaign. Chastain, an eighth-generation watermelon farmer, will sport the Protect Your Melon logo on his uniform and No. 4 race car. Other JD Motorsports’ race cars will also include the Protect Your Melon logo as they race in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Zippo 200 at The Glen on Saturday, August 3, 2019.


“It is a proven fact that seat belts save lives, and as a race car driver, Ross Chastain knows that better than most,” said DMV Commissioner and GTSC Chair Mark J.F. Schroeder. “We are proud to have Ross as the face of our ‘Protect Your Melon Campaign’ and to team up again with JD Motorsports to promote this critical message. Buckling up only takes a second, so I urge everyone to make this life-saving choice every time they are on the road.”


Throughout the weekend, Chastain will visit the DMV Mobile Office at Watkins Glen International to meet fans, sign autographs and encourage them to buckle up. Additionally, as part of the initiative, more than 250,000 watermelons labeled with "Protect Your Melon" and "Buckle Up!" hashtags have been sold in grocery stores throughout the state.


Earlier this year, Chastain helped kick off the 20th Annual “Buckle Up New York, Click It or Ticket” enforcement campaign with a press event at the East Senior High School in West Seneca, New York. “Buckle Up New York, Click it or Ticket” is a separate initiative aimed at raising awareness about proper seat belt use and cracking down on violators.


According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 47percent of those killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2017 were not wearing a seat belt. NHTSA estimates proper restraints reduce the risk of fatal injury to front seat passengers by 45 percent and moderate to critical injury by 50 percent. 


New York State has proudly led the nation with its seat belt requirements. In 1984, New York became the first state in the nation to require drivers and front-seat passengers to buckle up, and through continued education and enforcement the state has seen a steady rise in compliance.


According to the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR) at the University at Albany’s Rockefeller College, New York’s seat belt compliance rate has consistently remained at or above 90 percent since 2010. In a 2018 survey, the GTSC observed drivers and front seat passengers wearing seatbelts 93 percent of the time. This is the second year in a row that compliance has remained at 93 percent, the highest level in state history. The national average for seatbelt compliance is 89 percent.


For more information about GTSC, visit, or follow the GTSC conversation at Facebook and Twitter.


To learn more about the NYS DMV, visit, or follow the DMV conversation online at Facebook and Twitter.