Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed S. 4336/A. 6163 into law, requiring the wearing of seat belts by backseat passengers over age 16 in motor vehicles in New York State. The change takes effect on November 1, 2020. Those younger than 16 must still wear a seat belt anywhere in a car within the state.
The new law still carries a medical exception and exemptions for pre-1968 vehicles; vehicles not required by the federal government to have seat belts; emergency vehicles (except for fire company vehicles and ambulances when they're not providing medical care); rural letter carriers; and buses (other than school buses), which are subject to local regulations.
In 1984, New York became the first state to mandate seat belts for adult drivers and front-seat passengers. New York lawmakers also recently mandated that all taxi and livery passengers over age eight must wear a seat belt, but those hitching rides via ride-sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft are excluded.
Studies indicate significantly lower risks for injuries and deaths among front- and backseat drivers and passengers when all buckle up. Per the AAA, an unbelted rear seat belt passenger in a vehicle accident is two times more likely to be killed, eight times more likely to be seriously injured, and two times more likely to kill a front seat occupant by becoming a projectile. In New York State over the last decade, nearly 300 people have been killed, and over 25,000 people have been injured while unrestrained in the back seat of a motor vehicle.
This new seat belt law may be relevant to personal injury claims. If you or a loved one has sustained a serious injury in a car accident, it is important to consult with a personal injury attorney early to investigate your options and preserve crucial evidence. For assistance with these matters, please contact a member of our personal injury practice.
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