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New State Law to Require Seatbelts for Backseat Passengers Ages 16 and Older

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Aug. 12, 2020 By Christian Murray

All passengers in the back seat of a motor vehicle are soon going to be required by state law to buckle up.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law legislation that will require all passengers riding in the back seat to wear a seat belt come Nov. 1. Currently, passengers 16 years and older are not required to buckle up if they are traveling in the back seat.

“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,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

New York State law currently requires all front seat passengers to wear seat belts—no matter their age. In the back, the law only requires children under the age of 16 to wear seat belts, with those under the age of four requiring safety seats.

In 1984, under Governor Mario Cuomo, New York became the first state to pass a mandatory seat belt law and in the same year, according to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, approximately 16 percent of individuals wore seat belts. By 2008, 24 years after the law was enacted, the compliance rate was up to 89 percent.

Advocates for the change say that it will increase passenger safety.

“The injuries you can sustain from not wearing a seat belt can be deadly, and that’s a fact whether you sit in the front or the back of a vehicle. With this bill signed into law, we will help prevent tragedies and save lives in New York,” said State Sen. David Carlucci.

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