State Seatbelt Compliance at All-Time High

September 27, 2013 Updated Jul 14, 2011 at 12:05 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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State Seatbelt Compliance at All-Time High

September 27, 2013 Updated Jul 14, 2011 at 12:05 PM EDT

Albany, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- New Yorkers are bucking up at a record rate.

That's according to Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner and Chair of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee Barbara J. Fiala, who on Thursday announced that the seat belt compliance rate for New York has reached an all-time high.

This year’s statewide usage rate increased from 90 percent in 2010 to 91 percent for 2011.

The statewide survey for this year, which was conducted by the University at Albany’s Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research, shows an increase in seat belt use on New York State roadways when compared to 88 percent and 90 percent usage rates in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

The New York State Seat Belt Observation Survey was conducted at 200 individual locations in 20 counties where drivers and front-seat passengers were monitored for seat belt compliance. The June 2011 survey used the same methodology as previous surveys and was funded by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee.

“This rate of compliance is very gratifying and shows that drivers in New York State are moving in the right direction to make our roadways safer,” said Fiala. “We will not be satisfied, however, until all drivers realize that seat belt use is the single most effective way to prevent deaths and injuries in motor vehicle crashes.”

New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico said, “Since the introduction of seat belt laws in New York in 1984, through the ‘Buckle-Up New York’ efforts starting in 1999, and the most recent ‘Click-it or Ticket’ campaigns, the State Police has been a staunch proponent of seat belt education and enforcement. New York’s tough laws targeting seat belt violators, and impaired and aggressive drivers, combined with strict enforcement, has made New York one of the safest states in the nation in which to drive. The reported 91 percent seat belt compliance rate shows that the vast majority of New Yorkers are doing their part to maintain this safe reputation by continuing to ‘buckle-up for safety’ when on the road.”

John Grebert, the Executive Director of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, said, “The exciting news of New York’s seat belt compliance rate reaching an all-time high of 91 percent will be met with a great deal of pride and interest by Chiefs and law enforcement executives across the state. The partnerships, public education, and high visibility enforcement efforts have all played a major role in this recipe for success. I’m confident that law enforcement’s ongoing efforts in this ‘cornerstone’ of the traffic safety program will continue, day and night.”

“The combination of zero tolerance high visibility enforcement and creative public information programs has resulted in a 91 percent seatbelt compliance rate for New York State,” said Jack Mahar, President of the New York State Sheriffs’ Association. “This is exceptionally good news as we are all aware that seatbelts, when properly worn, greatly reduce crash severity. New York continues to be a leader in the traffic safety field and will build on this accomplishment for even higher usage rates in the future.”

The Department of Motor Vehicles and Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, along with law enforcement agencies across the state, conduct seat belt use campaigns each year to remind New Yorkers that buckling up saves lives. The most recent “Buckle Up New York – Click It or Ticket” enforcement effort was conducted from May 23 through June 5. The GTSC and its partners also conduct public education campaigns to enhance awareness of the importance of buckling up.

New York State’s occupant restraint law was enacted in 1984 and enforcement began in January of 1985. New York is a primary enforcement state, which means a law enforcement officer can stop a vehicle and issue a traffic ticket for failure to wear a seat belt without observing another violation. Failure to wear a seat belt carries a fine of up to $50.