Seatbelt Usage in New York
New York has had a seatbelt law in effect since December 1984, which is also when it became a primary enforcement state. This means that a police officer is allowed to stop someone for not wearing a seatbelt even if they are committing no other traffic violations.
The seatbelt law applies to anyone age 16 and older who is sitting in the front seat. For a violation of this law, the person may be fined up to $50 for a first offense. NY also has a law regarding child safety seats. Anyone age three years old and younger must be placed in a child restraint seat. Those four years old through seven years old must also be kept in a child safety seat. Violation of this law could result in a fine up to $100.
In 2012, the seatbelt usage rate was 90 percent. This is slightly above the national average of 86 percent. Interesting to note, NY has one of the lowest traffic fatality rates in the country at 5.7 per 100,000 population as of 2015. This is much lower than the national average of 10.9.
NY has always maintained a high rate of compliance with the seatbelt law, but it has improved in recent years. In 2007, the rate was at 83.5 percent. This climbed quickly to 89.1 percent the following year. In 2011, the state broke the 90 percent rate at 90.5 percent. The highest point came in 2013 with 91.1 percent.
New York is part of the Northeast Region, as labeled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The region as a whole ranks third out of four spots for seatbelt use even though New York has a higher rate than average.