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New York State Senate passes rear seat belt requirement for individuals 16+

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Wed, Mar 4th 2020 07:45 pm

Lifesaving legislation will prevent further tragedies across New York state

By AAA of Western and Central New York

A new safety requirement heads to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk to be signed, and requires passengers 16 and up to wear a seat belt in the back seat of a motor vehicle – including passengers of ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft. This new law, championed by AAA New York State, will save lives and prevent injuries across state roadways by requiring all occupants in a motor vehicle to buckle up. Over the past decade, nearly 300 people were killed and over 25,000 were injured unrestrained in the back seat of a motor vehicle. This accounts for eight injuries per day across New York state.

Current New York seat belt laws leave teens and young adults must vulnerable. According to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), teens and young adults 16-24 are least likely to buckle up and most likely to die compared to any other age group in New York state.

“It is counterintuitive that when individuals are most vulnerable, the requirement to wear a seat belt is lifted. This comprehensive seat belt law will benefit everyone on our roads,” said Lauren Paterno, government affairs representative for AAA New York State.

Seat belt use unequivocally reduces risk of injury and death for all vehicle occupants. Rear seat occupants who fail to buckle up are:

  • Two times more likely to be killed
  • Eight times more likely to be seriously injured
  • Two times more likely to kill a front seat occupant by becoming a projectile     

The current fine for an unbuckled front seat passenger is $50. The fine will remain the same and will be extended to unbuckled back seat passengers, as well. New York will join 30 other states that have implemented similar laws. Once signed by the governor, this new requirement will go into effect Nov. 1.

“AAA has worked tirelessly to educate lawmakers and the public about the importance of buckling up in the back seat. This comprehensive seat belt law will save lives and prevent injures on New York state roads,” Paterno said.

AAA spearheaded a group of over 25 organizations representing traffic safety, public health, health care professionals, first responders and the insurance industry to advocate for passage of S.4336/A.6163.

Sponsor and Sen. David Carlucci said, “Requiring the use of a seat belt in the back seat will save lives and prevent tragedies. Numbers do not lie. If you fail to buckle up in the backseat, experts say you are two times more likely to be killed and eight times more likely to be seriously injured. Thank you to AAA and all the advocates who supported this life-saving bill. Now we ask the governor to sign this legislation into law as soon as possible.”

Sponsor and Assemblyman Walter Mosley said, “Too many of the deaths we see on our roads are preventable. Since 1985, more than 1,500 adults have lost their lives for failure to wear their seat belt in the back seat. Because of this legislation, many families will be able to avoid the tragedy and heartbreak that over 1,500 families could not. I’d like to thank the advocates, especially AAA, for their steadfast support and advocacy of the bill. Requiring seat belts no matter a person’s age or seat in a car will save lives. I am proud to have sponsored legislation that will help protect and keep New Yorkers safe.”

“In the Unites States, motor vehicle collisions cause more traumatic brain injury than any other type of accident. Seat belts, when used properly – including in the rear seats – greatly reduce the chances of life-threatening injuries to the brain, spinal cord and other vital organs," said Rajanandini Muralidharan, M.D. director of the neuroscience ICU, NYU Winthrop Hospital.

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