New Yorkers overwhelmingly support requiring seat belt use for adult rear seat passengers, according to a survey conducted by AAA New York State.
Over 68% of New York drivers support a mandatory seat belt law for adults in the back (44% strongly), while only 15% of drivers opposed such a provision. Support was strong across geographic lines, with more than two-thirds of respondents supporting a mandatory law both inside and outside the MTA county region.
“New Yorkers recognize that seat belts are essential safety features, and Albany should follow their lead,” said Alec Slatky, Legislative Analyst for AAA New York State. “Not wearing your seat belt endangers you, other passengers, and everyone else on the road.”
New York State legislators should approve a lifesaving rear seat belt requirement for all adults during budget negotiations, says Slatky. New York enacted the nation’s first seat belt law in 1984, but the law currently only applies to rear seat occupants under 16. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget resolution would require adults of all ages to buckle up in the back, but the Senate would apply the requirement only to passengers under 21, and the Assembly omitted the provision entirely.
“The laws of physics don’t change with age,” said Slatky. “All adults should be required to buckle up.”
Earlier this month, one woman died in a crash on Route 77 in the Town of Alabama. She wasn't wearing a seat belt in the backseat. “Whether that was the cause of death is unknown. But, that's a device installed in their vehicle that could prevent serious physical injury or death in any accident,” said New York State Trooper James O’Callaghan.
So should buckling up in the back be a law for all ages? “I feel like everyone should wear a seat belt. If you want to drive safe, wear your seat belt,” said Darien Knight. “But, if there's a law than it's guaranteed that it's going to happen,” she added. “It's up to your own discretion. There's too many laws already,” added another Buffalo resident. “People in the back can fly forward and hit the people in the front so that's the risk to not wearing a seat belt,” concluded Jack McGuire.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has tied the idea to his executive budget. The Senate wants to raise the age requirement from 16 to 21, and the Assembly hasn't tied any seat belt proposals to its budget. So, it's unclear whether this is something that could be a reality in New York. Advocates only hope the idea doesn't take a backseat in the name of politics.