New state law requires backseat passengers to wear seat belts

Updated: Aug. 13, 2020 at 3:19 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Do you wear a seat belt in the back seat of a car? Come fall, you wont have a choice. Or you could get a ticket. So how do people feel about the new state law?

Starting November 1, everyone in the car will have to buckle up.

This week, Governor Cuomo signed a bill into law that requires all passengers of a motor vehicle to have their seat belts on and fastened, including those in the back seat.

Before the law, anyone over the age of 16 could have ridden in the back without a seat belt.

"Anything in the back seat, if it's not seat-belted, or secured, it's going to go forward. So if you're in a high speed crash and you're not wearing a seat belt, you're going to be that projectile going forward," said Black River Police Chief Steve Wood.

In his 26 years in law enforcement, Wood has been to dozens of crashes where people were not wearing seat belts. Some of those crashes were fatal.

"You know, any injury accident that I go to, usually they're preventable and if you can prevent the injury by wearing that seat belt, then that's a good thing," he said.

Statistics show that people who don't wear a seat belt in the back seat are 8 times more likely to be seriously injured, 2 times more likely to kill someone in the front seat, and 3 times more likely to be killed in the event of a sudden crash.

"If you look at the data and the statistics, there's no reason not to take the added safety measure," said Andrew Ellis, AAA branch insurance agent, Western and Central NY.

Ellis is a strong advocate for this law, a law nearly 30 states already follow. But what do drivers think?

"I think everyone should wear seat belts, but I don't think it should be mandated by law," said Bridget Doherty of Watertown.

"I feel like it's just a reason to pull people over," said Zach Carter of Brooklyn.

"Regardless how you feel, better safe than sorry," said Jose Castro of Miami, Florida.

The fine for failing to wear a seat belt in the back is the same as a violation for an un-belted front passenger - $50.

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