New York may soon require all passengers in the back seats of motor vehicles to wear seatbelts. Current state law requires only people under 16 years old riding in the rear seat to buckle up. A bill that would make New York the 30th state to mandate back-seat safety belt use is currently on its way to a full vote in the legislature. Whether the bill passes and becomes law or not, it’s important for all New Yorkers to realize the value of wearing a seatbelt while riding in the back seat. A report released by AAA in 2016, showed that, over the previous 20 years, 886 rear-seat passengers who were unbuckled died in traffic crashes in the state.

Back-Seat Safety Belt Use Reduces Injuries and Death

Safety experts and advocates say that people who don’t wear seatbelts in the back seat are more susceptible to injury or death than those who use the safety restraints. They also put other occupants of the car at higher risk of being injured or killed. The following national information from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety website, which looked at study data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Institutes of Health, highlights the dangers of not buckling up while riding in the back seat:

  • Unbuckled motor vehicle occupants are more likely to be ejected from vehicles in accidents, putting them at higher risk of injury and death. People ejected in non-rollover crashes are nearly twice as likely to die as those not ejected. In a rollover crash, they are four times as likely to be killed.
  • Back-seat passengers who don’t wear safety belts put other vehicle occupants at risk in crashes. Exposure to an unbelted person during a crash increases the risk of injury or death to other vehicle occupants by 40 percent. In a head-on crash, a rear-seat passenger who is unbuckled and sitting behind a belted driver increases the driver’s fatality risk by 137 percent, compared with when the back-seat passenger sitting behind the driver has a safety belt on.

Lives Saved by Seatbelt Use

NHTSA data estimates that throughout the country, nearly 70,000 lives were saved by wearing seatbelts in the five-year period from 2013 through 2017. In 2017 alone, nearly 15,000 lives were saved because of seatbelts. If all passengers in vehicles had been wearing their seatbelts during that year, nearly 2,600 more people would have lived instead of died in crashes.

In the face of such glaring fatality statistics, it is easy to see how important buckling up is, no matter where you are sitting in a car. Should the new back-seat belt law take effect, drivers wi ll face fines when their back-seat passengers don’t buckle up, as they currently do when front-seat passengers or those under 16 don’t buckle up in the back seat. Current seatbelt fines in New York are up to $50 per violation. If the violation is for an unbuckled passenger under 16, the maximum fine is $100 and three points on the drivers’ license.

Contact a New York Car Accident Attorney

If you’ve been the victim of a crash and need help, the experienced car accident attorneys at Kaplan Lawyers PC are here to assist you. Reach out to us today to schedule a free consultation.