Governor Andrew M. 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 enforcement mobilization which will be launched on Monday, May 18 through Sunday, 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,” Governor 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. In support of the national mobilization, New York State Police, county and municipal law enforcement agencies will conduct a border-to-border detail from 6 p.m.-10 p.m. on May 18. Police organizations from neighboring states – Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Vermont – also will participate in the mobilization effort. The goal of the Click It or Ticket campaign is to reduce fatalities in New York State, as well as nationally, through heightened enforcement of seat belt usage and increased public awareness.
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.
The Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR), a non-profit organization dedicated to improving highway safety in New York, says that restraint use among front seat occupants is lower at night than during the day, and that unrestrained front seat occupants killed or injured in crashes were much more likely to be male than female (63% vs. 37%). The largest proportions of unrestrained front seat occupants killed or injured in crashes were 30-39 (19%) and 40-49 (15%) years of age.
Highlights of New York State’s occupant restraint law:
· In the front seat, the driver and each passenger must wear a seat belt, one person per belt. The driver and front-seat passengers aged 16 or older can be fined up to $50 each for failure to buckle up.
· Every occupant, regardless of age or seating position, of a motor vehicle being operated by the holder of a Class-DJ Learner Permit, a Limited Class-DJ, or Class-DJ Driver License must be restrained by a safety restraint.
· Each passenger under age 16 must wear a seat belt or use an appropriate child safety restraint system. The restraint system must comply with the child height and weight recommendations determined by the manufacturer. Depending on the size of the child, the restraint system may be a safety seat or a booster seat used in combination with a lap and shoulder belt.
· The driver must make sure that each passenger under age 16 obeys the law. The driver can be fined $25 to $100 and receive up to three driver license penalty points for each violation.
New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said, “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. 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.”
Chuck DeWeese, Assistant Commissioner of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee said, “Buckling up is one of the simplest ways individuals and their passengers can protect themselves in a crash. In fact, among motorists who were involved in a crash, those who were unrestrained were eight times more likely to require hospitalization than those who buckled up. I urge all New Yorkers to buckle up when they get into a vehicle. It could save their life.”
NHTSA Regional Administrator Thomas Louizou said, “New York led the nation in enacting the country’s first seat belt law in 1984. Before seat belt use became a primary law in New York on January 1st, 1985, only 16 percent of front seat occupants used seat belts. Today, thankfully, that number is 91 percent. Increased seat belt use has helped reduce fatalities and severe injuries in the State. Still, the State must continue to reinforce the positive messages about seat belt use to motorists so that every driver and each passenger buckles up every trip, every time.”
(YWN Desk – NYC)