Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation (S.4336/A.6163) requiring all passengers in motor vehicles over the age of 16 to wear a seat belt. Currently, passengers aged 16 and older are only required to wear a seat belt in the front passenger seat next to the driver.
"We've known for decades that seat belts save lives and with this measure we are further strengthening our laws and helping to prevent needless tragedies," Governor Cuomo said. "It was under my father's leadership that New York became the first state in the country to pass a seat belt law, and the nation followed his lead. Now we are building upon this legacy and helping to create a safer and stronger Empire State for all."
In 1984, under Governor Mario Cuomo, New York became the first state to pass a mandatory seat belt law and in the same year, according to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, approximately 16 percent of individuals wore seat belts. By 2008, 24 years after the law was enacted, the compliance rate was up to 89 percent.
Senator David Carlucci said, "The injuries you can sustain from not wearing a seat belt can be deadly, and that's a fact whether you sit in the front or the back of a vehicle. With this bill signed into law, we will help prevent tragedies and save lives in New York. Thank you to the advocates, including AAA for their strong support of this legislation."
Assembly Member Walter Mosley said, "Seatbelts are a proven way to make our roads safer and lower the number of automobile fatalities. This legislation will go a long way towards achieving that goal and ensuring that all passengers are safe when traveling. I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this bill into law and look forward to the positive impact it will have on our state."
The Governor's Traffic Safety Committee has indicated 30 percent of highway deaths in New York are occupants unrestrained by a seat belt. Safety experts believe that the use of a backseat seat belt could prevent over two thirds of fatalities and serious injuries resulting from crashes. This legislation seeks to reduce automobile accident fatalities and casualties by requiring all occupants of a motor vehicle to buckle up.
The new law takes effect November 1.