NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There have been seatbelt laws on the books for years, but an accident over the weekend has put a spotlight on how they can save lives.

Nobel Prize winning mathematician John Nash, the man whose life played out in the movie ‘A Beautiful Mind’ and his wife were killed on the New Jersey Turnpike.

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Investigators said they were riding in the backseat of a cab and not wearing seatbelts.

As CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported, experts said you need to buckle up in the backseat.

Police departments across New Jersey were out looking for unbuckled drivers and passengers as part of their annual ‘Click It Or Ticket’ campaign, when the cab that John and Alicia Nash were taking home to Princeton from Newark Airport crashed in the southbound lane of the turnpike.

Authorities said both were killed instantly and had not been wearing their seatbelts.

In New Jersey, state law requires all passengers to wear seatbelts, in New York it is only mandatory for those riding in the front.

Last year, the Taxi and Limousine Commission released data from a survey finding that only 38 percent of passengers use the taxi’s seatbelts.

“Just laziness is all it is. Just lazy. In and out of the cab five minutes. They’re not gonna bother with it you know,” cab driver, Fred Simonsen said.

Robert Sinclair with AAA said it could be a fatal mistake.

“In the back of a taxi cab you’re probably even more vulnerable because of that partition there. You’re unrestrained if the cab breaks suddenly or worse hits a stationary object at a fair rate of speed,” Sinclair said.

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New York passengers opened up to CBS2’s Gainer about their seat belt habits.

“No I have never,” one said.

“I do no matter where I am,” another added.

“Truthfully no,” Jason Kass said, “Probably because it’s not required by law.”

It seemed that a legal requirement could be enough to get them to change their habits.

“If I’m gonna get a ticket, yeah, I guess I’ll wear it,” Raul Silva said.

Sinclair said it can be confusing that different states have different rules.

“Trying to get some standardization across the country so that we can make the safety situation on the roads more uniform,” he said.

In New Jersey the rear seatbelt law is secondary. Cops can only issue a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt in the backseat when there is another citable traffic violation.

In New York, all passengers under age 16 in the back seat are required by state law to wear seatbelts.

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