State will step up seat belt enforcement beginning May 18

Posted 15 May 2015 at 12:00 am

Press Release, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today announced a crackdown on drivers and their passengers caught without a buckled seat belt or transporting unrestrained children as part of the national Click It or Ticket – Border-to-Border. The enforcement mobilization will be launched on May 18 and continue through May 31.

At the Governor’s direction, the State Department of Transportation and the Thruway Authority have coordinated variable message boards to be activated with “click it or ticket” messaging on roadways throughout the campaign.

In 1984, New York was the first state in the nation to pass legislation requiring drivers and front-seat passengers to use seat belts. Since that time, thousands of lives have been saved by seat belts and child restraints in New York including 467 in 2012 and 446 in 2013.

“The evidence is inarguable – seatbelts save lives,” Cuomo said. “Dramatically increasing road safety for drivers and passengers can be accomplished with just the click of a seatbelt and this campaign encourages all New Yorkers to buckle up in order to prevent avoidable tragedies.”

As part of this national enforcement effort, the New York State Police, county and municipal law enforcement agencies in marked and unmarked vehicles will aggressively ticket unbelted drivers traveling the state’s roadways through border-to-border checkpoints and roving details to look for seat belt violations. This annual campaign is one of the many traffic safety initiatives sponsored by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee throughout the year.

Currently, 91 percent of New York motorists buckle up, which is four percent higher than the national average. New York motorists have maintained a 90 percent or higher seat belt usage rate since 2010. Despite this achievement, approximately 32 percent of the front seat occupants killed in crashes in New York State between 2011-2013 were unrestrained.

Developed by NHTSA, the national Click It or Ticket campaign focuses on saving lives by encouraging all vehicle occupants to wear a seat belt. According to NHTSA, there were 9,580 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in the U.S. in 2013.

According to the New York State Department of Health, nearly 700 unbelted motorists a month are injured severely enough to require hospital treatment. In 2011, 8,309 motorists in New York State who did not wear a seat belt required hospitalization for injuries sustained in a crash. Treatment of these injuries resulted in almost $127 million in emergency room and hospitalization charges, and public funds were required to pay 12 percent (nearly $16 million) of these costs.

Data from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles indicates that statewide law enforcement issued approximately 198,000 tickets to drivers in 2014 for a violation of 1229-c of the Vehicle and Traffic Law, which directs that all front seat occupants, and passengers under the age of sixteen, be restrained by a safety belt.

“Statistics show that wearing a seat belt saves lives and reduces the number of crash-related injuries. Safety restraints are not an option in New York,” said New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico. “If a Trooper spots a driver or front seat passenger without a belt in your car, or a child improperly restrained, the Trooper will issue a ticket. The New York State Police want everyone to arrive to their destination safely.”