Law enforcement join together to protect our youngest New Yorkers

The New York State Police are announcing the start of an important initiative that partners the State Police, New York State Park Police, and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee to encourage state park visitors to buckle up for safety.

The “BUNY in the Parks” initiative is an enforcement and educational campaign. The goal is to encourage visiting motorists and their passengers to properly buckle-up their seatbelts, and teach the importance of properly securing our youngest visitors in approved child safety seats. This year’s campaign will be held from July 8 to July 23, 2017.

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, reaching more than 90 percent in 2014. However, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages one through 13.  Based on U.S. Department of Transportation and National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash data in 2011, on average, nearly two children (age 13 and younger in a passenger vehicle) were killed and 338 were injured each day. This fatality rate could be reduced by about half if correct child safety seats were always used.

New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said, “The New York State Police, State Parks Police, and our law enforcement partners strongly encourage the proper use of seat belts and child safety seats in motor vehicles. By simply buckling-up, motor vehicle occupants dramatically reduce their risk of severe injury or death if involved in a motor vehicle collision. If you ignore the seatbelt laws, we will be working diligently to educate and enforce compliance.”

“Ensuring that you and your loved one buckle up is the single most important thing you can do when getting into a vehicle and it only takes one second, said David Page, Director of Law Enforcement, New York State Park Police. “Through Buckle-Up New York in the Parks, State Park Police, State Police and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee are committed to keeping all visitors and their families safe. These safety checks for seatbelts and properly installed car seats will save lives. While the speed limit inside a state park is slow all visitors should be reminded that the spectacular landscape, wildlife and a host of other distractions can lead to sudden danger if the proper precautions aren’t taken.”

Terri Egan, DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner and Acting Chair of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, said, “Just like on any public roadway, motorists and their passengers should be properly restrained while driving or riding in a motor vehicle in our State Parks. We want everyone to enjoy the beautiful scenery that New York’s State Parks have to offer, but to do so safely.  I encourage all New Yorkers to buckle up every trip, every time.”

Charles Cuvelier, Chief of Law Enforcement, Security and Emergency Services for the National Park Service said, “The National Park Service is proud to participate in “Buckle up New York”. We want our visitors and local communities to have an enjoyable and safe visit in our national parks this summer.  Wearing a seatbelt and using child restraint systems while driving in our national parks is one of the most effective things you can do to protect yourself in a crash and it’s the law. Towards Zero! is a combined effort using education and enforcement to meet our goal of zero traffic-related deaths is possible if you buckle up”.

This event coincides with one of the peak times that visitors travel to state parks throughout New York State, and our 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.

In addition to State Police and Park Police, the National Park Service will be participating in this campaign. Details are planned at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, with multiple checkpoints planned in park sites in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

During the 2016 BUNY in the Parks campaign, State Police and State Parks Police issued more than 42,045 tickets. More than 1,600 of those tickets were for improper child restraints and nearly 1,900 for adult seat belt 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, of a motor vehicle being operated by the holder of a Class-DJ Learner Permit, a Limited Class-DJ, or Class-DJ Driver License must be restrained by a safety restraint.
  • 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.

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