Press Release - 08-02-2021

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Tuesday, August 3, 2021        



Chastain to Meet with Fans and Encourage Seat Belt Use 

Fans Can Win Virtual Meet-and-Greet with Chastain 

Watch an Interview with NASCAR Driver Ross Chastain and GTSC’s Chuck DeWeese


As racing gets underway this week at Watkins Glen International, NASCAR driver Ross Chastain and Niece Motorsports join the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) to promote the importance of seat belt use through the “Protect Your Melon” campaign. Chastain will bring the Niece Motorsports race truck and meet with fans near the entrance to Watkins Glen State Park on the morning of August 5. Later that afternoon, Chastain will be at the Watkins Glen Village Square to sign autographs and meet fans. He will also make an appearance at the Department of Motor Vehicles booth at Watkins Glen International on Friday morning, August 6.

“The easiest thing you can do to keep yourself safe in a vehicle is to buckle up,” said DMV Commissioner and GTSC Chair Mark J.F. Schroeder. “Our hope is that wearing a seatbelt becomes second nature for all New Yorkers, so that we have fewer deaths and tragedies on our roads. Partnering with NASCAR driver Ross Chastain continues to be an effective way to get that message to young people who are less likely to buckle up. GTSC is grateful for his partnership and we wish him luck in his upcoming races.”

NASCAR driver Ross Chastain said, “I really enjoy coming to New York to promote seat belt awareness and race at Watkins Glen. Whether in a race or on the street, crashes can happen fast, and being buckled up, both front and back, is crucial for everyone's safety. I hope everyone enjoys the fast and exciting racing at Watkins Glen and remember to always protect your melon and buckle up, every seat, every time!”


Public Appearances

When: Thursday, August 5, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Where: Near Entrance to Watkins Glen State Park, 106 S. Franklin St., Watkins Glen


When: Thursday, August 5, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Where: Watkins Glen Village Square, Corner of Franklin St. and 3rd Street, Watkins Glen

Rain location: Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, 214 N. Franklin Street, Watkins Glen


When: Friday, August 6, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (dependent on racing schedule)

Where: DMV Booth, Watkins Glen International Racetrack


Win a Virtual One-on-One with Chastain

Additionally, racing fans have a chance to win a virtual meet-and-greet with Chastain. Cutouts featuring Chastain’s image and a contest QR code are now located in 100 Tops Stores in the Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mid-Hudson, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Southern Tier and Western New York regions. Fans who scan the code will be entered to win a personal, one-on-one interview with Ross. The contest runs through 5 p.m. on August 15. Two winners will be selected at that time, and separate Zoom sessions with Chastain will be conducted on August 18.

Protecting New Yorkers

GTSC Protect Your Melon and Buckle Up New York Campaigns aim to educate New Yorkers about the significant role seat belts have in preventing injuries and deaths in crashes. Earlier this year, as part of the annual “Buckle Up New York, Click it or Ticket” campaign, Chastain spoke to students at Fort Edward and Lake George schools about the importance of wearing seat belts. He engaged young people in the Battle of the Belts competition, where competitors quickly move from seat to seat in a vehicle to see how fast they can buckle up. The activity is a fun way to demonstrate that it only takes a second or two to buckle a seat belt.

Data suggests that this type of educational outreach is working, New York’s seat belt compliance rate consistently tops the national average. In the most recent survey, 94 percent of front seat drivers and passengers in the state were wearing their seat belts.

New York was the first state in the nation to pass legislation requiring drivers and front-seat passengers to use seat belts and last year, the seat belt law was strengthened to require everyone in passenger vehicles, regardless of where they sit, to wear a seat belt or be properly restrained in a child safety seat.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, if you buckle up in the front seat of a passenger car, you can reduce your risk of fatal injury by 45 percent. Data from the New York State Department of Health shows that people who aren’t wearing seat belts are also 5 times more likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury.

About GTSC
Combined with education and enforcement campaigns, GTSC coordinates various traffic safety activities throughout the year, and supports ongoing initiatives to improve pedestrian, motorcycle and bicycle safety. The GTSC also sponsors critical training for law enforcement, provides resources for teen drivers and their parents, and promotes seat belt use statewide.

For more information about traffic safety in New York State, please visit the GTSC website at