Today, the New York State Police and New York State Parks Police, were joined by the governor’s Traffic Safety Committee in delivering the message encouraging state park visitors to buckle up for safety.
This initiative partners both police agencies in an enforcement and educational campaign to encourage visitors to properly buckle up their seat belts. It also aims to teach the importance of properly securing our youngest visitors in approved child safety seats.
Despite the overall success of the recent Click it or Ticket and Buckle Up New York campaigns, a subset of noncompliant motorists still exists. Law enforcement has noticed a disturbing trend of lower seat belt and child restraint use in proximity to state parks located outside large urban areas. It is the goal of this partnership to increase compliance and raise awareness of this issue with this joint summer parks enforcement initiative.
Since New York became the first state in the nation to enact a primary seat belt law, effective Jan. 1, 1985, countless lives have been saved. The seat belt compliance rate has steadily increased, reaching more than 90 percent in 2014. However, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children 1 through 13 years of age. Based on U.S. Department of Transportation and National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash data in 2011, on average, nearly two children (13 years old and younger in a passenger vehicle) were killed and 338 were injured each day. This fatality rate could be reduced by about half if correct child safety seats were always used.
“As the summer travel season continues, the State Police, State Parks Police and our partners strongly encourage the proper use of seat belts and child safety seats in motor vehicles,” said New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II. “This is about protecting the smallest New Yorkers, our children. By simply buckling up, we can reduce severe injuries and deaths in motor vehicle crashes. We will continue to work diligently to promote proper seat belt use and compliance."
“Taking a few seconds to buckle up could be a life changing decision. State Park Police Officers make it their priority to protect both children and adults and ensure that they do not put themselves – and others at risk for injury by not clicking it,” said State Park Police Maj. David Page, commanding officer of the Western District. “An action as simple as buckling your seat belt or securing your child in a child safety seat could be all it takes to stay unharmed.”
“New York is home to a world-class system of state parks extending from the tip of Long Island to the eastern shores of Lake Erie, eclipsing 65 million visits last year alone,” said Executive Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and Acting Chair of the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee Terri Egan. “People clamor to visit our state parks during the summertime, making it more important than ever to ensure that we are all doing our part to keep each other safe by buckling up and obeying vehicle and traffic laws. There are simple rules to follow and they save thousands of lives every year: one passenger per seat, and everyone is in the proper child passenger safety seat and others wear the proper seat belt. I encourage all New Yorkers to have a safe, happy, and healthy summer in our state parks.”
"The National Park Service is proud to participate in Buckle up New York. We want our visitors and local communities to have an enjoyable and safe visit in our national parks this summer,” said Chief of Law Enforcement, Security and Emergency Services for the National Park Service Charles Cuvelier. “Wearing a seat belt and using child restraint systems while driving in our national parks is one of the most effective things you can do to protect yourself in a crash and it’s the law. Towards Zero! is a combined effort using education and enforcement to meet our goal of zero traffic-related deaths is possible if you buckle up."
This event coincides with one of the peak times that visitors travel to state parks throughout New York, and the goal is for motorists and their families to arrive and depart safely. Increasing seat belt use is one of the most effective ways to reduce crash related injuries and fatalities. Ensuring motorists adhere to proper child restraint laws will, no doubt, protect the lives of many that cannot speak for themselves.
This year, the National Park Service and New Jersey State Police will be participating in this campaign. Joint details will be conducted with the State Police and State Park Police in New Jersey at recreation areas and state parks near the New York border. The New Jersey State Police will be joined by the U.S. Park Police, Sheriff’s offices of Monmouth and Sussex counties; and Highlands, Sea Bright, and Middletown police departments during their enforcement campaign.
During the 2015 Buckle Up New York (BUNY) in the Parks campaign, State Police and State Parks Police issued more than 2,000 tickets. More than 1,200 of those tickets were for improper child restraints and nearly 500 for adult seat belt violations.
Highlights of New York State's occupant restraint law:
• In the front seat, the driver and each passenger must wear a seat belt, one person per belt. The driver and front-seat passengers 16 years of age or older can be fined up to $50 each for failure to buckle up;
• Every occupant, regardless of age or seating position, of a motor vehicle being operated by the holder of a Class-DJ Learner Permit, a Limited Class-DJ, or Class-DJ Driver License must be restrained by a safety restraint;
• Each passenger under age 16 must wear a seat belt or use an appropriate child safety restraint system. The restraint system must comply with the child height and weight recommendations determined by the manufacturer. Depending on the size of the child, the restraint system may be a safety seat or a booster seat used in combination with a lap and shoulder belt; and
• The driver must make sure that each passenger under 16 years of age obeys the law. The driver can be fined $25 to $100 and receive up to three driver license penalty points for each violation.