On Sunday, November 1, the Empire State’s new seatbelt law went into effect. The law requires backseat adult passengers to wear seatbelts.
Previously, the law required that the driver, front seat passengers, and children wear a seat belt, or otherwise be properly restrained as per age requirements. The only passenger exempt from seat belts was the adult in the back seat.
The reasoning behind the change to this law is the knowledge that state and federal researchers have gained in the last few decades concerning the fact that seat belts save lives. The data is conclusive enough that to exclude adult back seat passengers seems like a dangerous oversight.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that just 68% of rear-seat passengers wear their belt when they aren’t required to by law. The number goes up to 81% once it’s made a legal requirement. In 2018 (the most recent available data set), there were 1,033 motor vehicle fatalities in NY. About 30% of highway deaths in NY involve occupants not wearing a seat belt.
In 1984, New York became the first state with a mandatory seat belt law, but it was one of 20 states that did not require all passengers to wear restraints. As of Nov. 1, 2020, that is no longer the case.