Do Backseat Passengers Have To Wear A Seat Belt In New York?

Once upon a time, a family trip to the beach consisted of five children sitting on each other’s laps in the back seat. Today, a larger vehicle would be required for the same trip. New York’s seat belt laws have become stricter (no pun intended) over the years.

When Did This Become the Law?

Previously, backseat passengers were not required to wear seat belts. However, the law changed in 2020, and enforcement started on November 1st. If a police officer observes a passenger not wearing a seat belt, he or she can pull over the driver and issue fines or summonses accordingly.

Are There Exceptions to the Law?

The law exempts only two types of vehicles: buses and emergency vehicles. Even though they are exempt, many buses and emergency vehicles are equipped with seat belts, and passengers are strongly encouraged to use them whenever possible.

Why Was the Law Changed?

New York is not the first U.S. state to mandate that all passengers, regardless of age, wear seat belts. This is the thirty-first state to enact this law.

Seat belts, when worn properly, have been shown to reduce severe injuries and fatalities in all types of automobile collisions. However, a 2018 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that passengers are much less likely to wear seat belts when it is not required by law.

This law was passed to reduce preventable traffic-related fatalities in New York.

Child Restraint Laws

There is one additional circumstance in which seat belts are not required. Child restraint laws, not seat belt laws, apply to children under the age of eight.

Child restraint laws cover the following:

  • reversible child seats
  • Child seats with front-facing child restraints
  • Increasing seat belt usage

Children under the age of two are required to use rear-facing child seats unless they exceed the seat’s height or weight requirements. Children under the age of seven and weighing up to 40 pounds are required to use a front-facing child safety seat in conjunction with a standard seat belt.

However, depending on the child’s weight and height, booster seats may still be necessary.

Why Is it So Important to Wear a Seat Belt?

According to the CDC, more than half of the teens and adults under the age of 45 who died in a car crash were not wearing seat belts. Since approximately 70% of people wear seat belts while in a moving vehicle, those who do not wear one are more than twice as likely to die as those who do.

What About the Rumors that Seat Belts Are Unsafe?

You may have heard that seat belts are unsafe, but these rumours are largely based on misinterpreted facts. Seat belts prevent more harm than they cause, on average.

That does not preclude their ability to cause harm. When worn improperly, a seat belt can strike vulnerable areas of the body, such as the throat or stomach, during an accident. This is why you should use a booster seat if your height or weight dictates it.

In the majority of severe collisions, your seat belt will cause bruising or even broken ribs. However, if the accident was severe enough for that to occur, you would have likely been ejected from the vehicle, which would have been significantly more damaging.

In conclusion, seat belts are safe and should be worn properly at all times.

Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm

Contact Abrams Law Group for a free consultation if you’ve been hurt in an accident and require legal assistance.

Abrams Law Group
104-70 Queens Boulevard, Suite 502
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 997-9797

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