Press Release - 5-20-2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, May 20, 2021
GOVERNOR’S TRAFFIC SAFETY COMMITTEE PROMOTES SEAT BELT USE AS SPRING MOBILIZATION BEGINS
“Buckle Up New York, Click it or Ticket” Campaign Runs Through June 6
Watch an Interview with NASCAR Truck Series Racer Ross Chastain and GTSC’s Chuck DeWeese
The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) joined with law enforcement today to announce the kickoff of the annual “Buckle Up New York, Click it or Ticket” campaign. This education and enforcement mobilization runs from May 24 to June 6 to promote seat belt use as the spring travel season ramps up.
To raise awareness, GTSC held a press conference today at Fort Edward Jr/Sr High School in Washington County and has continued its partnership with NASCAR Truck Series Driver Ross Chastain and Spire Sports. Chastain visited New York high schools last week to promote seat belt use and the ongoing “Protect Your Melon” campaign. Chastain, an eighth-generation watermelon farmer, will also sport the Protect Your Melon logo on his uniform and race truck.
New York State Police and local law enforcement agencies will also use marked and unmarked vehicles, checkpoints, and roving details to ticket unbelted drivers during the campaign.
“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. “We want to make sure everyone understands the law and more importantly, knows the risks of not wearing a seat belt. Our Buckle Up New York campaign helps us do that. It is not about writing tickets; it is about educating the public that wearing a seat belt is necessary for your safety and the safety of others.”
In 1984, New York was the first state in the nation to pass legislation requiring drivers and front-seat passengers to use seat belts. Governor Cuomo signed legislation last year to strengthen the state's historic seat belt laws to better protect everyone on New York's roadways. As of November 1, 2020, everyone in passenger vehicles, regardless of where they sit, needs to wear a seat belt or be properly restrained in a child safety seat. In New York, police can lawfully ticket motorists for not wearing a seat belt even if they are not committing any other traffic infractions.
As part of its ongoing effort to make sure drivers and passengers are safe, GTSC's Child Passenger Safety Program supports training on how to properly install child safety restraints. Through this program, law enforcement and various community safety partners offer free child car seat inspections by certified child passenger safety technicians year-round. Information for parents and caregivers is available at trafficsafety.ny.gov.
Statistics show that seat belts save lives, and the numbers are clear. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that seat belts saved 14,955 lives in 2017, nationally, and could have saved another 2,549 if people who were not wearing them had done so. In New York, NHTSA estimates seat belts saved 396 lives in 2017, and another 11 children under age 5 were saved by car seats.
The NHTSA offers guidance for pregnant women on how to properly wear a seat belt while expecting. You can read their recommendations on their website.
New York State Police Acting Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen said, “As the summer travel season officially begins, the State Police, State Parks Police, and our law enforcement partners strongly encourage the proper use of seat belts and child safety seats in motor vehicles. By simply buckling up, drivers and passengers dramatically reduce their risk of severe injury or death if they are in a crash. We will be working diligently to educate and enforce our state’s seat belt laws. Help us to save lives by buckling up. The life you save could be your own.”
David Bartlett, Columbia County Sheriff and President of the New York State Sheriffs’ Association, said, “It is a simple fact…if you don’t wear a seat belt in the car you are more likely to be injured or even killed, in the event of a crash. Everyone in a vehicle must wear a seat belt or be in an appropriate child restraint device, even back seat passengers. The Sheriffs of New York State want you to wear your seat belt because it’s smart, it’s simple, and it’s the law!”
Timothy Parisi, Chief of the Ilion Police Department and President of the NYS Association of Chiefs of Police, said, “Our members and their personnel across the state take a great deal of pride and interest in New York’s seat belt compliance rate of 94 percent. Our statewide partnerships, public education, awareness programs and high visibility engagement activities all contributed to this accomplishment. We pledge to continue our collaborative efforts to achieve even greater compliance, both day and night, to encourage seat belt use by all passengers on every trip.”
For more information about traffic safety in New York State, visit the GTSC website at https://trafficsafety.ny.gov/.