Seat belt laws are important to protect driver and passenger safety, and New York law enforcement officers want to make sure you’ve buckled your seat belt. According to an article in World News Report, from May 20 to June 2, 2013, New York police were involved in a national campaign designed to raise awareness about seat belt laws. How did the awareness campaign work? In short, the officers increased enforcement of state seat belt laws for that two-week period, making drivers aware that police officers are serious when it comes to buckling up.
Details of the Safety Belt Campaign
The recent campaign in New York is not new to police officers. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been conducting its “Click It or Ticket” seat belt enforcement campaign for several years, according to World News Report. NHTSA’s campaign website emphasizes the alarming statistics associated with seat belt violations. Namely, if all drivers aged 5 and older had worn seat belts, 3,341 lives could have been saved in 2010 alone.
NHTSA emphasized the importance of focusing on seat belt violations that occur between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., as most auto fatalities happen at night. Indeed, 62% of all drivers aged 18-34 who died in nighttime crashes were not wearing their seat belts. Police officers were instructed to “issue citations to drivers not wearing seat belts without giving warnings, and to not accept any excuses from drivers for their failure to buckle up.”
Penalties for an Adult Seat Belt Violation
Penalties for seat belt violations are steep in New York. New York “requires all drivers and passengers in the front seats to wear safety belts.” Significantly, New York seat belt laws are “primary laws,” which means that police officers can actually stop drivers for a seat belt violation- even in situations where the driver has not broken any other traffic laws.
The fines are stiff too. Failing to wear a seat belt can cost an adult driver or passenger $50.
Penalties for a Child Seat Belt Violation
Children under the age of 16 who are found without a seat belt or a safety restraint system can lead to a penalty for the driver. In most of these situations, the police can issue the driver a ticket that will cost a fine of between $25 and $100.
Why can the driver be fined when a minor passenger fails to wear a seat belt? Simply put, “drivers are responsible for ensuring that passengers under 16 years old comply with seat belt laws.” That means that kids who are 16 years old or younger must wear safety belts. For especially young children, this means being secured in a safety restraint system, like a car seat or booster seat that has a lap belt attached.
Drivers who receive seat belt violations for unsecured child passengers will also face the consequences of having 3 points added to their driving records. If you accumulate 11 points or more within an 18-month period, the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will suspend your license.
In conclusion, when driving or riding in a motor vehicle always make sure that you and everyone else in your vehicle is wearing a seat belt. Keep these mottos in mind every time you enter a motor vehicle; “Seat Belts Save Lives” and “Click it or Ticket.”