Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the 21st Annual “Buckle Up New York, Click It or Ticket” enforcement campaign is underway and will run through November 29, 2020. The statewide campaign, supported by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, raises awareness about the importance of wearing seat belts. Throughout the mobilization, state and local law enforcement agencies are using marked and unmarked vehicles, checkpoints, and roving details to patrol for unbelted occupants. Law enforcement is also making sure children are properly restrained. During last year’s enforcement campaign, police issued 26,432 tickets for seat belt and child restraint violations.
“Wearing your seat belt isn’t only the law, but it’s the smartest choice you can make to help prevent a needless tragedy,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York has been a national leader on this issue ever since my father helped institute the country’s first seat belt law, and while we’ve made a great deal of progress over the years, we still see instances where they are not being used. There is no debate — seat belts save lives and we will continue to raise awareness on this undisputable fact to help ensure all those who travel on New York’s roadways do so safely.”
In August, Governor Cuomo signed legislation that strengthens 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.
Enforcement efforts like the “Buckle Up New York, Click it or Ticket” mobilization and educational campaigns like the GTSC’s new PSA are working. The state’s seat belt compliance rate has remained at or above 90 percent since 2010, reaching a record 94 percent last year, according to data from the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research at the University at Albany’s Rockefeller College.
To further promote awareness, GTSC has continued its partnership with Xfinity Series driver Ross Chastain and Spire Sports to encourage seat belt use through the “Protect Your Melon” campaign. As part of this initiative, 1,500,000 watermelons labeled with “Protect Your Melon” and “Buckle Up” were sold in grocery stores throughout the state during the spring and summer months, along with Chastain cardboard cut-outs and watermelon bin posters. Additionally, Chastain uses his large social media following to promote seat belt use in New York.
According the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 37,133 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes nationwide in 2017 and 47 percent of those killed were not wearing seat belts. NHTSA estimates that in 2017, seat belts saved 14,955 lives and an additional 2,549 people could have been saved had they been wearing a seat belt.
GTSC Chair and DMV Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder said, “It’s simple, buckling up is the easiest and most effective way to reduce the risk of death or injuries in a car crash. I encourage all New Yorkers to make the smart and safe choice of buckling up every time.”
New York State Police Superintendent Keith M. Corlett said, “For more than three decades, the New York State Police have been stressing the importance of safety restraint use in motor vehicles. By using safety belts and child safety seats properly, operators and passengers dramatically reduce their risk of severe injury or death when in a motor vehicle accident. Seatbelts save lives. We will continue to do our part to reduce senseless injuries and deaths that result from not buckling up and remind drivers: click it or ticket.”
Greece Police Chief and President of the NYS Association of Chiefs of Police Patrick Phelan said, “Our members and their personnel across the state take a great deal of pride and interest in New York’s high seat belt compliance rate of 94 percent. Our comprehensive partnerships, public education and awareness programs, and high visibility efforts all play a key role in this priority traffic safety campaign. With regular seat belt use identified as the single most effective way to reduce fatalities and injuries in motor vehicle crashes, I’m confident that law enforcement’s efforts will continue, both day and night. So please remember to ‘Buckle up – every trip and every time!'”
Washington County Sheriff Jeffrey Murphy, President of the NYS Sheriffs’ Association, said, “The easiest thing you can do to stay safe in a car is also the best way to save lives and reduce injuries in the event of a crashwearing your seat belt. Everyone in a vehicle must use a seat belt or be in an appropriate child restraint device. 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!”