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The Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) today kicked off the 20th Annual “Buckle Up New York, Click It or Ticket” enforcement campaign with a press event at the East Senior High School in West Seneca, New York. The statewide campaign, which runs from May 20 to June 2, raises awareness about the importance of wearing seat belts. To help encourage seat belt usage, GTSC is continuing its partnership with Xfinity driver Ross Chastain and JD Motorsports through the “Protect Your Melon” initiative.
During the enforcement period, New York State Police and local law enforcement agencies will use marked and unmarked vehicles, checkpoints, and roving details to patrol for unbelted drivers and front-seat passengers. Law enforcement will also make sure children are properly restrained. In New York, police can lawfully ticket motorists for not wearing a seat belt even if they are not committing any other traffic infractions.
“Nationally, thousands of lives are saved by seat belts each year, and even more could be saved if every driver and passenger buckled up,” said Acting GTSC Chair and Acting DMV Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder. “We hold these events each year as a reminder of how easy it is to greatly reduce your risk of serious injuries or death in a crash. I encourage all New Yorkers to make the smart choice—wear your seat belt.”
New York State has proudly led the nation with its seat belt requirements. In 1984, New York became the first state in the nation to require drivers and front-seat passengers to buckle up, and through continued education and enforcement the state has seen a steady rise in compliance. According to the University at Albany’s Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research(ITSMR), New York’s seat belt compliance rate has consistently remained at or above 90 percent since 2010.
GTSC’s partnership with Xfinity Series Driver Ross Chastain and JD Motorsports encourages seat belt use through the “Protect Your Melon” campaign. As part of this initiative, over 250,000 watermelons labeled with "Protect Your Melon" and a "Buckle Up!" hashtag will be sold in grocery stores throughout the state during the spring and summer months. Additionally, Chastain’s No. 4 Xfinity Series race car and other JD Motorsports vehicles will include the “Protect Your Melon” logo while racing at the NASCAR XFINITY Series Zippo 200 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 3, 2019. Chastain is an eighth-generation farmer, whose family grows watermelons.
Acting New York State Police Superintendent Keith M. Corlett said, “Statistics show that wearing a seat belt reduces the number of crash-related injuries and saves lives. Safety restraints are not an option in New York. They are required by law. During the Buckle Up New York, Click It or Ticket campaign, our troopers will be joining our law enforcement partners across the state to step up enforcement and ensure that motorists and passengers are obeying the seat belt laws. We will continue to do our part to reduce senseless injuries and deaths that result from not buckling up. We remind drivers and passengers to do the same by simply buckling up.”
Malverne Police Department Chief & President of the NYS Association of Chiefs of Police John Aresta said, “Chiefs and members of law enforcement across the state take a great deal of pride and interest in New York’s high seat belt compliance rate of 93 percent. Our comprehensive partnerships, public education and awareness programs, and high visibility enforcement efforts all play a key role in this priority traffic safety campaign. With regular seat belt use identified as the single most effective way to reduce fatalities and injuries in motor vehicle crashes, I’m confident that law enforcement’s targeted efforts will continue, both day and night. So please remember to ‘Buckle up - every trip and every time!’”
Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard said, “In the event of a crash wearing a seat belt can save your life and prevent serious injuries. The Sheriffs of New York State want everyone to enjoy Summer and be safe by wearing their seat belts.”
West Seneca Central School District Superintendent Matthew J. Bystrak said, “We are excited to be hosting this event with so many of our students taking to the roads this summer as new drivers. We are grateful to the Governor and his Traffic Safety Committee, our law enforcement agencies, and Mr. Chastain for taking steps to address what is most certainly an important safety issue within our community.”
According the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 37,133 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2017 and 47 percent of those killed were not wearing seat belts. NHTSA estimates that in 2017, seat belts saved 14,955 lives and an additional 2,549 people could have been saved had they been wearing a seat belt.
For more information about GTSC, visit safeny.ny.gov, or follow the GTSC conversation at Facebook and Twitter.
To learn more about the NYS DMV, visit dmv.ny.gov, or follow the DMV conversation online at Facebook and Twitter.