Make sure everyone is buckled up

New York State Police and other agencies are teaming up to ensure people are properly buckled up when they're at state parks.

State police, the New York State Park Police and Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Traffic Safety Committee have launched an enforcement and educational campaign for motorists and their passengers about using seat belts correctly when visiting parks, according to a news release from the state police. 

The initiative, which runs July 13 to Aug. 12, will also teach the importance of placing children in approved safety seats. The campaign coincides with one of the peak periods for state park visitations throughout New York, the news release said.

In 1985, New York became the first state to put a primary seat belt law in effect. The state seat belt compliance rate was 93% in 2018, but motor vehicle crashes are still a leading cause of child death, the news release said.

"Data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reflects that, of the 794 children that were killed in fatal crashes in 2017, 37% were unrestrained. The NHTSA also found that among children under 5 years old, an estimated 325 lives were saved in 2017 by restraint use," the news release said.

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The news release said state police and state park police gave out over 3,700 total tickets during last year's campaign, including 2,017 child restraint violation tickets and 764 adult seat belt violations.

The state's occupant restraint law states that in the front seat, the driver and every passenger has to wear a seat belt , with one person per belt. The driver and front-seat passengers 16 or older could face fines up to $50 each for failure to comply. 

Passengers 16 or younger need to use seat belts or proper child safety restraint systems. The restraint system should match with the manufacturer's child height and weight recommendations. Depending on the child's size, the restraint system may be a safety seat or booster seat used along with a lap and shoulder belt, the news release said.

When riding with a driver who has a junior license or learner permit, all occupants have to employ a restraint no matter their age or seating positions. The vehicle driver needs to ensure every occupant under 16 obeys the law. Otherwise, the driver may be fined $25 to $100 and get up to three driver license penalty points per violation.

“We want the public to enjoy their summer outings but we want them to do so safely. Motorists must remember that proper use of seat belts and child safety seats reduces the risk of injuries and save lives, especially when it comes to our children," state police Superintendent Keith Corlett said in the news release. "The New York State Police, State Parks Police and our law enforcement partners will be working diligently to educate motorists and enforce compliance to prevent needless tragedies and keep motorists safe.”

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