CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) – State Police and local police agencies will be out in force across New York and across the country for the next two weeks, cracking down on people who don’t follow the seat belt laws.
New York State was the first state in the country to pass a law requiring drivers and front seat passengers to wear seat belts, and it remains one of the states with the highest compliance rates in the country, but there is still more work to do to save more lives.
“New York’s seatbelt compliance rate stands at about 92 percent right now, which is good, but that still means eight to ten percent of the people in New York State are not wearing their seatbelt, and when you look at the population of drivers in New York State, with 10 or 11 million drivers, you’re still looking at about a million people in New York State who fail to buckle up,” said Chuck DeWeese, a member of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, during a click it or ticket campaign kickoff event in Syracuse over the weekend.
New York State is one of 24 states taking part in border to border enforcement as part of this campaign, where law enforcement from adjoining states will be ticketing people for failing to wear their seat belts. There will be checkpoints on highways that connect to neighboring states on Monday, May 22. That enforcement activity will occur from 4-8 p.m., a time selected because seat belt usage is traditionally lower during the evening hours.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that seat belts saved 13,941 lives in 2015 nationally and could have saved another 2,804 if people who weren’t wearing them had done so.
To help encourage more people to wear their seat belts, New York continues to promote the “Protect Your Melon” message. Over the next few months, about a million and a half watermelons will hit grocery store shelves in the state with special stickers reminding consumers to buckle up.
“This is a different way for us to remind people,” said Xfinity driver Ross Chastaine, who drives the No. 4 Xfinity Series racecar adorned with the words “Protect Your Melon” and the campaign’s logo. “They see billboards, they hear us talk about it with the racecars and state police and everybody. But this is a different way so now we think by getting in the grocery store, when mom or whoever’s doing the grocery shopping picks up the watermelon, and whether the thumps it or she flips it over to look at the belly of it to see if it’s a good watermelon, she’ll see the buckle up message.”
The enforcement campaign runs from May 22 to June 4.