Press Release - 08-30-2019

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Friday, August 30, 2019

Lisa Koumjian
[email protected]

Tim O’Brien
[email protected]



Statewide Seat Belt Compliance Hits Record High, Marks 10th Consecutive Year Seat Belt Usage in New York State Reached 90 Percent or Higher

The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles are reminding New Yorkers to buckle up as they hit the road to enjoy the long holiday weekend. This year, New Yorkers set a new record for compliance with the state’s first-in-the-nation seat belt law. A total of 94.2 percent of drivers and front-seat passengers are buckling up, marking the 10th year in a row that the compliance rate has remained at or above 90 percent. The state last set a record of 93.4 percent compliance in 2017 and maintained that level in 2018. 

“As many New Yorkers head out to enjoy the holiday and an extra day off from work, I encourage everyone to drive responsibly, avoid distractions and wear your seat belts; it is the single most effective way to stay safe in a crash,” said DMV Commissioner and GTSC Chair Mark J.F. Schroeder. “It is gratifying to know that the vast majority of New Yorkers are already taking this simple step to protect themselves and others, but we won’t rest until we reach 100 percent compliance.”

In 1984, New York became the first state in the nation to pass legislation requiring adults to use seat belts. Since then, the New York State Seat Belt Observation Survey has been conducted by the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research at the University at Albany’s Rockefeller College. The compliance rate is based on observations made during the month of June at 120 sites across the state.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), studies show that a seat belt is the most effective safety technology in the history of the automobile.  NHTSA reports that wearing a seat belt in the front seat of a passenger car can reduce the risk of death by 45 percent and reduce the risk of serious injury by 50 percent. Based on NHTSA data, the national seat belt use rate is 90 percent, but more than 27 million Americans still do not buckle up.  

To raise awareness about the benefits of wearing a seat belt and to increase seat belt use among all New Yorkers, the DMV and GTSC support several statewide educational and enforcement initiatives. This month, NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Ross Chastain and JD Motorsports joined the DMV and GTSC at Watkins Glen International to promote the importance of seat belt use through the “Protect Your Melon” campaign. Chastain’s and other JD Motorsports race cars featured the Protect Your Melon logo as they raced in the Zippo 200 at the Glen. Chastain also met with fans to encourage them to buckle up and he autographed hero cards that include important seat belt safety statistics.

In addition, state, local and county law enforcement conduct an annual, statewide “Click It or Ticket” campaign to enforce the seat belt law. The GTSC also partners with law enforcement to promote its “Buckle Up New York” initiative throughout the year. 

DMV and GTSC also work to ensure that children are restrained properly. As part of the 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. GTSC maintains a list of child safety seat events on its website.

New York is a primary enforcement state, which means a law enforcement officer can stop a vehicle and issue a traffic ticket for failure to wear a seat belt without observing another violation.

New York’s seat belt law covers all front seat occupants, requires the use of safety belts by back seat passengers under 16 years of age, and requires children to remain in an appropriate child restraint system until they reach eight years old. Failure to wear a seat belt carries a fine of up to $50 plus a surcharge.  If a child under the age of 16 is not properly restrained, the driver faces a maximum fine of $100 and three points on their license.

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