Press Release - 08-16-2022

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Tuesday, August 16, 2022        


Chastain to Meet with Fans and Encourage Seat Belt Use

On Thursday, August 18, NASCAR driver Ross Chastain and DGM Racing will join the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) in Watkins Glen to promote the importance of seat belt use through the “Protect Your Melon” campaign.

Fans will have two opportunities to get autographs and meet Chastain. The NASCAR driver will meet with fans on the lawn of the Schuyler County Courthouse on Thursday, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and again at 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. He will also make a brief appearance at the Department of Motor Vehicles booth at Watkins Glen International on Sunday, August 21 at 11:30 a.m.

“Seat belts save lives, and by expanding the seat belt law to include rear-seat passengers, New York State is able to save even more lives,” said Mark J.F. Schroeder, Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles and GTSC Chair. “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’m thrilled to be part of the Protect Your Melon initiative again to spread awareness about the importance of wearing seat belts and to encourage race fans to buckle up!”

Public Appearances

When: Thursday, August 18, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Where: Schuyler County Courthouse Lawn, 106 Tenth Street, Watkins Glen

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. 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 five times more likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury.

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.

Earlier this year, as part of the annual “Buckle Up New York, Click it or Ticket” campaign, Chastain spoke to students at Rensselaer High School 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.

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