Law requiring rear seatbelt use takes effect on Sunday

Posted 30 October 2020 at 9:47 am

Press Release, AAA Western and Central New York

New York’s new rear seat belt law goes into effect Sunday, November 1, requiring all passengers to wear a seat belt in the back seat of a motor vehicle, including passengers of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.

Until now, passengers over age 16 were not required to wear seat belts in the rear seat in New York. The 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. Unbelted rear passengers account for eight injuries per day across New York State.

The state pioneered auto safety in 1985 as the first state with a law that required passengers wear seat belts in the front seats of passenger cars. But New York has lagged requiring the use of seat belts in rear seats, with 289 unbuckled rear seat passengers killed, and 25,596 injured from 2010 to 2019.

“As an advocate for traffic safety, AAA supports the new law requiring rear seat belt use in New York. While critics may claim that we don’t need another traffic law, research shows that states with rear seat belt requirements consistently have higher overall seat belt usage rates and seat belts are proven to save lives,” said Elizabeth Carey, Director of Public Relations at AAA Western and Central New York.

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

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

The current fine for an unbuckled front seat passenger is $50 dollars. The fine will remain the same and will be extended to unbuckled back seat passengers as well. New York will join 30 other states which have implemented similar laws.

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