Survey: Front Seat Belt Use at Record Level in NJ

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — More New Jerseyans than ever are using front seat belts, but use of seat belts by back seat passengers has declined, according to a recent observational survey conducted by the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

The survey showed front seat belt usage has risen to a record 93.73 percent, an increase of slightly more than 1 percent from last year, state highway safety officials said Thursday.

Using guidelines set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, state officials say that increase in front seat belt use will prevent eight fatalities, 236 serious injuries and 177 minor injuries. It also will save New Jersey nearly $57 million in crash-related economic costs annually.

However, only 27.09 percent of adults are buckling up in the back seat, about 5 percent less than in 2009, despite a new state law requiring it. And the number of back seat passengers between ages 8 and 18 using seat belts also declined in the last year, from 53.06 percent to 36.97.

Overall, back seat belt usage rate dropped to 47.77 percent, down from 51.73 percent.

Former Gov. Jon Corzine signed a law in January mandating that all back seat passengers use seat belts. It’s enforceable only a secondary offense, however, meaning that police need another reason to stop a vehicle to issue violators a ticket. The fine is $46.

“When New Jersey’s primary seat belt law took effect in 2000, the front seat belt usage rate stood at 74 percent,” said state Highway Traffic Safety Director Pam Fischer said. She noted that the rate has increased steadily as motorists recognized the safety benefits of buckling up.

She said the challenge now is to raise awareness about back seat safety.

During a “Click It or Ticket” campaign, which ran from May 24 to June 6 and involved hundreds of police agencies across the state, officers issued 35,671 seat belt citations, down from 41,442 in 2009.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comments

One Comment

  1. Norman says:

    Question: if back seat belt law is enforceable only a secondary offense, however, meaning that police need another reason to stop a vehicle to issue violators a ticket.
    Why in Freehold, NJ local cops regularly issue seat belt tickets by stopping vehicles with any primary reason whatsoever? Whats more, Freehold Municipal Court require full payment on these tickets + court surcharge. If these tickets are illegal, than ALL such tickets must be thrown out. Can someone investigate this rather suspicious way of making extra money for Freehold Township?

  2. Norman says:

    Question: if the backseat passenger seat belt law is enforceable only as secondary offense, why it is in Freehold, NJ local cops regularly stop vehicles and issue tickets for back seat belt violation without primary reason for stopping these vehicles. Does it mean that ALL such seat belt tickets are illegal? Why is it then Freehold Municipal Court accepts these tickets as legally issued and require payment on them? Can someone investigate this rather suspicious way to make extra money for Freehold Township.

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