Police cracking down on seatbelt safety in NY state parks

NEW YORK STATE (NEWS10) — The New York State Police, the New York State Park Police and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee are partnering to make sure visitors to state parks are buckling up for safety.

“BUNY in the Parks” is an enforcement and educational campaign to make sure drivers and passengers properly buckle-up their seatbelts while traveling inside state parks, and to teach the importance of properly securing young children in approved child safety seats. This year’s campaign will be held from July 11 to August 10.

Since New York State became the first state in the nation to put in place a primary seatbelt law, on January 1, 1985, numerous lives have been saved.  The seatbelt compliance rate has reportedly steadily increased and reached a record 94% in New York State in 2019.

However, motor vehicle crashes are still said to be a leading cause of death for children. Data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) says 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, “As the summer travel season continues, the State Police and our partners strongly encourage the proper use of seat belts and child safety seats in motor vehicles. This is about protecting the smallest New Yorkers, our children. By simply buckling-up, we can reduce severe injuries and deaths in motor vehicle crashes. We will continue to work diligently to promote proper seatbelt use and compliance.”

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

Mark J.F. Schroeder, DMV Commissioner and Chair of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, said  “New York has so many beautiful parks and they are great places to enjoy the outdoors during this difficult time, but I urge New Yorkers to enjoy them responsibly. Just because you are driving in a park does not mean you don’t need to wear a seat belt.  Make sure everyone stays safe in our parks. Buckle up every trip, every time.”

The initiative coincides with one of the peak times that visitors travel to state parks throughout New York State, and the goal is for drivers and their families to arrive and leave safely. Increasing seatbelt use is reportedly one of the most effective ways to reduce crash related injuries and fatalities.

During the 2019 BUNY in the Parks campaign, the New York State Police and State Park Police reportedly issued 7,596 total tickets, including 3,369 tickets for child restraint violations, and 3,927 tickets for adult seatbelt violations. 

Highlights of New York State’s occupant restraint law: