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State Launches Seat Belt Enforcement Effort in Buffalo

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – Resulting from the success of the "Buckle Up New York" campaign, the New York State Police and law enforcement agencies throughout New York are participating in a national seatbelt enforcement mobilization from May 20th through June 2nd, designed to further improve highway safety.

New York, along with states across the country, was selected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to demonstrate the effectiveness of high-visibility, zero-tolerance enforcement, aimed at increasing seatbelt use. The effort will urge motorists to buckle their safety belts or face receiving a citation. The simple message: "Click It or Ticket."

"The 'Buckle Up New York, Click It or Ticket' enforcement and education initiative sends a clear message that seatbelts and child restraint seats save lives," Commissioner Martinez said. "By working with law enforcement agencies throughout New York, we are taking a proactive approach to increase awareness and spread a message that has helped make the last five years on our highways and byways the safest period on record since the 1920s."

According to statistics, New York's police officers issued over 500,000 tickets for seatbelt violations, including child safety violations, in 2000. This was an increase from 1998, when less than 200,000 were issued.

"We have made great strides in improving highway safety in recent years, and the single best way to save additional lives is to get everyone buckled up," Superintendent of State Police James W. McMahon said. "The fact is, troopers, deputies and police officers across this state continue to see people needlessly injured and killed on our highways because they weren't buckled up, and law enforcement is united in its resolve to prevent these tragedies. Very simply, it's 'Click It or Ticket.'"

"Each and every year hundreds of lives are saved and thousands of injuries are prevented as a result of motorists wearing seatbelts," Commissioner Martinez said. "Sadly, some New Yorkers still do not comply with the law. If these individuals are involved in a crash, even at low speeds, the consequences are much more likely to be catastrophic."

In addition to saving lives, State Insurance Department Superintendent Gregory V. Serio said that wearing seatbelts could potentially save New York's drivers billions of dollars.

"Simply fastening your safety belts is the most effective way we can protect ourselves and our family members and prevent auto-related deaths and major injuries in New York State," said Superintendent Serio. "Those who don't buckle up not only run the risk of injury, but cost our nation's drivers $10.1 billion annually through higher automobile and health insurance rates and through public assistance programs funded with federal and state tax revenues."

"The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released statistics citing that the number of children killed in car crashes across our nation's highways last year was the lowest figure yet," Erie County Sheriff Patrick Gallivan said. "There is no doubt that tougher laws and high-profile law enforcement activities like 'Click It or Ticket' have contributed to this decline. Law enforcement and education do, indeed, succeed."

"The Buffalo Police Department is committed to traffic safety and saving lives," Buffalo Police Commissioner Rocco J. Diina said. "We'll do anything we possibly can to ensure that the lives of our citizens are protected. We encourage the use of seatbelts and will see that the seatbelt law continues to be strictly enforced."

New York's zero-tolerance policy for seatbelt violations means that violators will receive a ticket if stopped for not using a safety restraint. The fine for such violations is up to $50 plus a $35 surcharge. The fine does not increase for repeat offenders. If a motorist is stopped for having a person less than 16 years old unrestrained, the fine is up to $100 plus the surcharge, plus three points on their license.

According to state law, motorists can be stopped in New York by a police officer for not wearing their seatbelt; another violation is not necessary to make the stop first.