Niagara Gazette — Despite the overall success of the recent Click it or Ticket and Buckle Up New York campaigns, New York State Police and Park Police officials have noticed a disturbing trend of lower seat belt and child restraint use in proximity of state parks located outside large urban areas.
"Seat belts and car seats increase the chance of survival when driving at all speeds," Chief Richard O'Donnell of the New York State Park Police said. "Tragedy can strike even at the lowest speeds. Park visitors should adhere to all the rules of the road while in a state park and that includes buckling up and securing young children in a car seat."
State Police and Park Police are currently taking part in a joint enforcement and education campaign that will run through July 27 coinciding with one of the peak times that visitors travel to state parks throughout New York state. Together, the agencies will encourage visiting motorists and their passengers to properly buckle-up their seat belts, and teach the importance of properly securing our youngest visitors in approved child safety seats.
"Just because the roads in our State Parks are not major highways doesn't mean the seat belt laws change, or that it's safe to go without a seat belt," said New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Barbara J. Fiala. "We urge all New Yorkers to buckle up — and parents to have their children in the appropriate safety seats — every time they travel in a motor vehicle, whether on a highway or in one of our lovely state parks."
Since New York state became the first state in the nation to enact a primary seat belt law, effective, Jan. 1, 1985, countless lives have been saved. The seatbelt compliance rate has steadily increased, reaching a record level of 91 percent in 2013. Still, in 2013 more than 200 people killed in motor vehicle crashes in New York State were not wearing seat belts.