Just a few days ago, Governor Cuomo signed legislation S.4336/A.6163 into law.
Here's what you need to know:
- Currently New York has no legal requirement for backseat passengers to buckle up once they're over the age of 16. Come November 1st, 2020, this will no longer be the case.
- Once the law goes into the effect, all passengers, regardless of where they're sitting, will be required to wear seatbelts when the vehicle they occupy is on the road.
- This law includes private vehicles as well as for-hire vehicles such as Uber and Lyft. This applies to anyone driving in New York, regardless of where they live or are licensed.
- New York is a primary enforcement State, which means a police officer can stop you and issue tickets if they observe someone unbuckled in your car.
- Someone who isn't buckled can be fined $50. At their discretion, an officer can also charge the driver of the vehicle an additional $25 to $100 and three points per violation! That means if there are two people unbuckled in the car, a driver could be looking at up to $200 and six points! (If you do happen to get a ticket, don't forget you can still fight it.)
If you want my take on the matter…
Personally, I think it's madness that this hasn't been the case until now. Applying the law inconsistently sends the message that wearing a seatbelt in the backseat might not be all that important, but nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, according to Governor Cuomo's own Traffic Safety Committee, 30% of highway deaths in New York are from unrestrained passengers. Another study conducted in 2017 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that number at an even higher 47%. Other studies have indicated that 66% of all deaths and serious driving related injuries could be prevented by wearing a seatbelt.
The NY Daily News sums it up best:
“According to AAA Northeast, an unbelted rear-seat passenger in a vehicle accident is two times more likely to be killed, eight times more likely to be seriously injured, and two times more likely to kill someone in the front seat by flying forward.
In New York, over the last decade, 289 people have been killed, and 25,596 people have been injured, while riding unbuckled in the back seat of a motor vehicle.”
Want to stay up to date with all New York's latest driving laws? Make sure to check back each week for the news you need to know, as well as other tips and tricks to avoid and fight traffic tickets.