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Finally, seat belts are mandatory for all passengers and driver

Effective Nov. 1 of this year, everyone in all vehicles must be either in a child restraint seat or belted in no matter where you are sitting or your age, and it’s about time.

State law has previously mandated driver and front seat passengers must be belted or in a child restraint seat, and rear seat passengers under 16 years of age must be in a child restraint seat or restrained by a safety belt. Until Nov. 1, rear seat passengers 16 years and above were not required to wear a seat belt, but a new state law now requires that everyone is restrained, with the exception of those who have a doctor’s excuse.

A citation for a violation of this law for rear seat passengers age 16 or older must be issued only to the passenger. The maximum fine for a conviction is $50 plus the applicable surcharge, which is $93 for a violation in a town or village.

This is a law based solely on safety. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation indicate that chances of surviving an impact are greater if a vehicle occupant remains in the vehicle. How important is it not to be ejected in a collision? Check this out:

Only 1% of occupants using seat belts were ejected from their vehicle.

Eighteen percent of occupants not wearing seat belts were ejected.

Seventy-four percent of occupants totally ejected died!

In New York state, compliance with the previous mandatory seat belt requirements is over 90%. New York has a primary seat belt law, which means you can be stopped and ticketed for non-compliance. In some states, the seat belt law is a secondary one, which means a driver must be stopped for another violation first, not just failure to wear a seat belt. Compliance is higher in states where it is a primary law.

Also taking place on Nov. 1 is an amendment to Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1229-c, which now requires back seat passengers in a taxi or livery to also be restrained by a safety belt. Tickets for this violation can be issued to a parent or guardian so such passenger only if the violation occurs in the presence of the parent or guardian. As part of this law, all taxis and liveries must have a notice posted in the vehicle that states, “Seat belts must be available for your use. You must buckle up; it’s the law.”

These new laws are only common sense. Although seat belt compliance is high in New York state, approximately 50% of vehicle deaths are with drivers and passengers that are not belted. Wearing a seat belt when driving or riding is the most important thing you can do. Now, finally, it is mandatory by law for everyone.

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