NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Back seat passengers in New York state will now need to buckle up, or pay up.
In a few months, fines will be issued for not wearing a seat belt and, in some cases, the driver could even be penalized, too, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported Tuesday.
Video from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows what happens when a back seat passenger is not buckled up during a crash.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo‘s Office says 30% of highway deaths in New York are occupants unrestrained by a seat belt, which is why he signed legislation Tuesday that requires all back seat passengers wear one — or face a $50 fine.
“We’ve known for decades that seat belts save lives and with this measure we are further strengthening our laws and helping to prevent needless tragedies,” Cuomo said.
The measure takes effect Nov. 1.
“Small thing. Put your seat belt on. I’m OK with it,” said Chad Whitfield of Woodmere.
When asked if he puts his seat belt on in the back, Brooklyn resident Malcolm Brown said, “I do, because people drive crazy in New York.”
“I don’t ever wear a seat belt in the back of a car,” said Quiana Howard of the Bronx.
But the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety believes more people in New York will now, as seat belt use is higher in states that make it the law.
Studies have shown 90% of adults buckle up in the front seat, while only 76% do in the back, and even fewer wear seat belts in for-hire vehicles.
The legislation allows officers to make stops just for a back seat passenger not wearing a seat belt. Whereas in New Jersey it’s only enforced if the vehicle is stopped for another reason.
With the law in New York, an officer can use discretion and ticket the driver as well.
“I think we should just focus on raising awareness because it’s ultimately going to effect working class people and poor people more than anyone else,” said Asha Whale of Brooklyn.
“Anything for safety, but is it necessary right at this moment? I think there should be stricter fines for people not adhering to social distancing,” Brooklyn resident Andres Harrison added.
The law applies to yellow taxis and shared rides like Uber and Lyft. Both companies told CBS2 they support the law and encourage compliance.
In addition, the Taxi and Limousine Commission said in part, “Public safety is vital, and we will strongly communicate with the riding public about the new law’s provisions and the importance of their compliance.”
Thirty states have similar laws already.
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