Press Release - 08-03-2018

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Friday, August 3, 2018

Lisa Koumjian
[email protected]



Seatbelt Compliance in New York State Remains 93 Percent

Photos Available on DMV’s Flickr Page

The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) and XFINITY series race car driver Ross Chastain again team up to promote seatbelt use and help increase compliance among New Yorkers. Chastain joined the GTSC and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) at a press event today to encourage New Yorkers to buckle up. 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. 

“We are delighted to be back at Watkins Glen International with Ross Chastain to share the important message that seatbelts save lives,” said Terri Egan, Executive Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and Acting GTSC Chair. “As a NASCAR driver, Ross understands how vital seatbelts are, and we are grateful for his continued support. It only takes a second to buckle up, and we hope that every driver and passenger will make this smart choice every time they are in a motor vehicle.”

As part of the ongoing Protect Your Melon Campaign, 1.3 million watermelons labeled with "Protect Your Melon" and "Buckle Up!" stickers are being sold in TOPS Markets and other grocery stores throughout the state. Chastain’s No. 4 race car, which he will drive in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Zippo 200 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on Saturday, also sports the “Protect Your Melon” logo. His car will be on display at DMV’s booth at the race track through August 5. 

In addition, Chastain participated in several public events this week including a meet-and-greet with fans at the Watkins Glen TOPS Market and the Hidden Valley 4H Camp on Thursday, August 2 to further promote seatbelt use. As Chastain prepares for another trip around the race track, he hopes fans will remember that it is not just NASCAR drivers who need protection behind the wheel. 

“It’s time to go turn right again,” Chastain said. “I’ve always looked forward to the road course races but things changed last year when we showed some significant signs of improvement! Our No. 4 car had speed and my team has continued to work on the car to make sure it’s ready for the challenge this year! Plus, getting to spend the whole week in New York leading up to the race promoting watermelons, racing at Watkins Glen International and safe driving with our Protect Your Melon campaign is an awesome experience.”

Stephanie Specchio of Watkins Glen also knows the value of wearing seat belt. In April 2016, Specchio was a passenger in a vehicle that was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer in Beaver Dams, Schuyler County. She broke her pelvis and her hip.  More than two years later, she is still in recovery. She now shares her story to encourage all drivers and passengers to buckle up. 

“Based on the shape of the car after the incident, I’m not sure what would have happened if I hadn’t been wearing my seatbelt,” Specchio said. “I don’t remember anything. It seems pretty likely I would have gone through a window.

In 1984, New York became the first state in the nation to pass a seat-belt law, and its efforts to get drivers and passengers to buckle up has resulted in a steady rise in compliance over the last nine years. Since 2009, seatbelt compliance in New York State has remained at or above 90 percent.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), proper restraints reduce the risk of fatal injury to front seat passengers by 45 percent and moderate to critical injury by 50 percent. NHTSA also reported that in 2016, seat belt use in passenger vehicles saved an estimated 14,668 lives nationwide, yet nearly 27.5 million passengers still don’t buckle up.

For more information about New York State law and proper seatbelt use, visit