Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced today that a 14-day statewide "Buckle Up New York" campaign to crack down on drivers and their passengers who are not wearing seat belts will be conducted by law enforcement agencies throughout New York State from May 20 through June 2.
"The importance of wearing a seat belt is clear -- seat belts save lives," said Governor Cuomo. "Taking a few seconds to fasten your seat belt or to properly secure a child's safety seat is the easiest thing you can do to keep yourself and your passengers safe."
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 52 percent of the 21,253 passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2011 were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the crash. NHTSA also reports that in 2011 seat belts saved an estimated 11,949 lives nationwide including 444 in New York State.
"Buckle Up New York" is part of the nationwide "Click It or Ticket" campaign. During this year's campaign law enforcement agencies that share state borders will team up in what is being called "Operation Border to Border" to provide increased seat belt enforcement at border sites, sending a zero tolerance message that driving or riding unbuckled will result in a ticket, no matter what state you are in.
"Buckling up is the easiest way to prevent injuries and fatalities should you become involved in a crash," said Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner and Chair of the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee Barbara J. Fiala. "In New York State, we have had a seat belt compliance rate of 90 or better for the past three years. However, we won't be satisfied until every driver and passenger buckles up -- every time."
State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D'Amico said, "Seat belts save lives in New York State. By using safety belts and child safety seats properly, operators and passengers dramatically reduce their risk of severe injury or death when in a motor vehicle crash. For more than two decades, the New York State Police have been stressing the importance of safety restraint use in motor vehicles. We will continue to do our part to reduce senseless injuries and deaths that result from not buckling up and remind drivers to click it or they will get a ticket."
State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H. said, "Car transportation is part of daily living, but people should be aware of potential dangers and always use seat belts, as well as child safety seats or booster seats for every passenger under the age of eight. Make safety a top priority every time you are in a motor vehicle and buckle up to protect yourself and your loved ones."
Executive Director John Grebert of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police said, "Chiefs and law enforcement executives across the state take a great deal of pride and interest in Commissioner Fiala's exciting news of New York's seat belt compliance rate being 90 percent or better. The partnerships, public education, and high visibility enforcement efforts have all played a major role in this recipe for success. With regular seat belt use identified as the single most effective way to reduce fatalities and injuries in motor vehicle crashes, I'm confident that law enforcement's ongoing efforts will continue, day and night.
Executive Director of the New York State Sheriffs' Association Peter Kehoe said, "We want to make motorists aware of the importance of buckling up every trip, every time. A person not wearing a seat belt in a car crash is three times as likely to be injured or killed, and five times more likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury. Seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury to front seat passengers by 45 percent. These statistics should cause motorists to take notice..... and BUCKLE UP!"
Regional Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Thomas Louizou said, "Click It or Ticket is the most successful seat belt enforcement campaign ever, helping to increase the national seat belt usage rate. Coast to coast, day or night, the message is simple -- Click It or Ticket."
"Car crashes are the leading cause of deaths and injuries for children ages 1-12," said Mark Hoffacker, Project Coordinator for the New York Coalition for Transportation Safety and member of the New York State Child Passenger Safety Advisory Board. "Parents are the key to keeping their children safe in the car. The correct use of child safety restraints is critical. Make sure every passenger in your vehicle is properly buckled -- every time."