ALBANY, New York — New York state law at this point only requires the driver and front-seat passengers to wear seatbelts when riding in cars. Legislators are considering amending state law to include mandatory use of the seatbelts in the rear of vehicles as well. According to an article appearing on Long Island News 12’s website, the state Senate and the state Assembly passed legislation that would require passengers riding in the backs of cars to wear a seatbelt. Not wearing a seatbelt could be ticketed as a civil infraction with a fine, not more than $50.00. While the current state of the law in New York gives people the option to wear a seatbelt if they chose, taking away the choice by passing the law could save lives and reduce injuries backseat passengers suffer in car accidents.
If the law was passed, compulsory use of seatbelts by backseat passengers could save hundreds of lives and reduce the injury toll. A spokesperson from AAA told News 12 that the agency has advocated for the law change for several years. The spokesperson said that at least 300 people died in New York car crashes who were not wearing a seatbelt in the backseat. Additionally, AAA estimates that another 25,000 people sustained injuries in the last decade as well. A large number of backseat passengers killed or wounded, 24 percent, were between sixteen to twenty-four years old.
People have mixed emotions about wearing seatbelts in the backseat. Some people believe the front seats or side-impact airbags protect them. But seatbelts keep passengers inside the car. The seatbelts hold the passenger in place and prevent ejection, which is essential to surviving the crash.
The governor must sign the bill before it becomes state law. There is no indication from the governor’s office whether he plans on endorsing the legislation.
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