State police and local law enforcement to crack down on seat belt use in state parks

ALBANY, NY — The New York State Police, the New York State Park Police and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee are partnering to ensure that visitors to state parks are buckling up for safety.

“BUNY in the Parks” is an enforcement and educational campaign to ensure that visiting motorists and their passengers properly buckle-up their seatbelts while travelling inside state parks, and to teach the importance of properly securing our youngest visitors in approved child safety seats. This year’s campaign will be held from Saturday, July 13, 2019 to Monday, August 12, 2019.

Since New York State became the first state in the nation to enact a primary seatbelt law, effective January 1, 1985, countless lives have been saved.  The seatbelt compliance rate has steadily increased, and was at 93% in New York State in 2018. However, motor vehicle crashes continue to be a leading cause of death for children. Data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reflects that, of the 794 children that were killed in fatal crashes in 2017, 37% were unrestrained.  The NHTSA also found that among children under 5 years old, an estimated 325 lives were saved in 2017 by restraint use.

New York State Police Superintendent Keith M. Corlett said, “We want the public to enjoy their summer outings but we want them to do so safely. Motorists must remember that proper use of seat belts and child safety seats reduces the risk of injuries and save lives, especially when it comes to our children.  The New York State Police, State Parks Police and our law enforcement partners will be working diligently to educate motorists and enforce compliance to prevent needless tragedies and keep motorists safe.”

State Park Police Chief Mark VanWie said “The safety of our visitors is our greatest priority and through our partnership with the New York State Police and local law enforcement agencies statewide, we will continue to educate and enforce proper seat-belt usage, which will help ensure a safe, enjoyable experience for all motorists entering or leaving our NYS state parks.”

DMV Commissioner and Chair of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee Mark J.F. Schroeder said, “New York has 180 state parks for its residents and visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re driving on a highway to get to one of them or on a park road, always wear your seat belt and make sure your children are properly restrained in a seat suitable for their age and size. Crashes can happen anytime and anywhere, often when you least expect them, so always be safe and keep buckled up whenever a car is in motion.”

This initiative coincides with one of the peak times that visitors travel to state parks throughout New York State, and the goal is for motorists and their families to arrive and depart safely.   Increasing seatbelt use is one of the most effective ways to reduce crash related injuries and fatalities. Ensuring motorists adhere to proper child restraint laws will, no doubt, protect the lives of many that cannot speak for themselves.

During the 2018 BUNY in the Parks campaign, State Police and State Park Police issued more than 3,700 total tickets. That included 2,107 tickets for child restraint violations, and 764 tickets for adult seatbelt violations.

Highlights of New York State’s occupant restraint law:

  • In the front seat, the driver and each passenger must wear a seat belt, one person per belt. The driver and front-seat passengers aged 16 or older can be fined up to $50 each for failure to buckle up.

  • Every occupant, regardless of age or seating position, must use a safety restraint when riding with driver who has a junior license or learner permit.

  • Each passenger under age 16 must wear a seat belt or use an appropriate child safety restraint system. The restraint system must comply with the child height and weight recommendations determined by the manufacturer. Depending on the size of the child, the restraint system may be a safety seat or a booster seat used in combination with a lap and shoulder belt.

  • The driver must make sure that each passenger under age 16 obeys the law. The driver can be fined $25 to $100 and receive up to three driver license penalty points for each violation.