Press Release - 09-14-2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
NEW YORK STATE MATCHES ALL-TIME RECORD FOR SEAT BELT COMPLIANCE IN 2016
2016 Marks the Seventh Consecutive Year for 90 Percent Compliance or Higher
The New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) today announced that 92 percent of New Yorkers continue to buckle up and regularly use seat belts, which matches the previous all-time high set in New York State in 2015. It is the seventh consecutive year that seat belt use in the Empire State has stayed at or above 90 percent, according to the New York State Seat Belt Observation Survey conducted each year by the University at Albany Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR).
“New York State’s seat belt compliance rate is holding steady at 92 percent, showing that the majority of motorists understand the benefits of buckling up and that the extraordinary efforts of our law enforcement partners across the state are paying off,” said Terri Egan, GTSC Acting Chair and Executive Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. “However, there is still work to do. A small percentage are still not getting the message that seat belts save lives and help prevent serious injuries in traffic crashes. Each and every New Yorker should be buckling up – no excuses!”
New York State was the first state to enact seat belt laws in 1984, and has conducted annual statewide observational surveys of seat belt use since the law was enacted. 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. Failure to wear a seat belt carries a fine of up to $50. 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. The only vehicles excluded from coverage under the law are emergency vehicles, taxis and liveries, and buses, with the exception of the driver.
New York State’s seat belt use is higher than the national average of 88.5 percent in 2015 (up from 86.7 percent in 2014), according to the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), conducted annually by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The same survey showed that seat belt use continued to be higher in primary law states compared with states with weaker enforcement laws, or without seat belt laws.
New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said, “We want all New Yorkers to buckle up. Our Troopers see first-hand the injuries suffered by those who don’t buckle up when they climb into a vehicle. We will continue to enforce our seat belt law, and educate the public on the importance of using one. Taking just a few seconds to fasten your seat belt could be a life-saving decision.”
The importance of wearing seat belts cannot be overstated. Seat belts absorb the force of impact in a traffic crash and reduce the risk of being injured or killed, and hold motorists securely to help prevent them from striking objects inside the vehicle should the vehicle be tossed around. Motorists are also less likely to be thrown through the vehicle’s windshield or doors.
Herkimer County Sheriff Christopher Farber, President of the New York State Sheriffs’ Association, said, “Congratulations to those New Yorkers who buckle-up every day. It is a simple fact: seat belts save lives and help prevent serious injuries. All too often Deputy Sheriffs respond to vehicle crashes and see first-hand what can happen to passengers who do not wear their seatbelts. Maintaining our 92 percent seatbelt compliance rate is a great accomplishment, but let’s try to do even better.”
“Chiefs and members of law enforcement across the state are excited to hear the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee’s news of New York’s sustained seat belt compliance rate of 92 percent. Our comprehensive partnerships, public education and awareness programs, and high-visibility enforcement efforts have all played a major role in this recipe for success,” said New York State Association of Chiefs of Police Executive Director Margaret Ryan. “There is no good reason for not wearing your seat belt in 2016, yet many motorists are still not buckling up. With regular seat belt use identified as the single most effective way to reduce fatalities and injuries in motor vehicle accidents, law enforcement will continue it’s around the clock vigilance with this vital traffic safety initiative. Buckling up is something every motorist controls every time they get behind the wheel. It’s not only the law, it’s also the smart thing to do.”
The GTSC implements educational and enforcement initiatives to increase seat belt use by drivers and passengers all year long. In May, the agency announced a new “Protect Your Melon” campaign to promote safe driving statewide in conjunction with the annual Buckle Up New York seatbelt enforcement mobilization. GTSC also partnered with the New York State Police and New York State Park Police in July to encourage state park visitors to buckle up for safety. Additionally, GTSC recently supported the launch of a new "Save Face: Buckle Up" electronic billboard displayed across the state to remind New Yorkers of the dangers of not using seatbelts.
“I applaud our partners in the Buckle Up New York campaign for continuing to raise awareness of the importance of properly wearing seat belts – including while driving in state parks,” said Rose Harvey, Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. “With over 65 million visitors to our parks each year, it is crucial that visitors buckle up inside our parks just as they would on all roads or highways to help ensure the safety of children and families as they experience New York's great outdoors.”
Buckling up also means ensuring 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.