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AAA study shows rear seat belt law is working

A study found 20 percent of children involved in fatal car crashes were improperly restrained, or not restrained at all.
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A law tightening seat belt restrictions is changing behavior

Until November of 2020 in New York state, passengers age 16 and up were not required to wear a seat belt in the back seat of vehicles. However, a law that went into effect last year changed that.

AAA Director of Public Relations Elizabeth Carey said AAA was supportive of the law.

"If you're not buckled up in the back seat, you are twice as likely to be killed,” said Carey. “You could also become seriously injured or become a projectile to injure someone or be thrown out the front windshield."

This is particularly true for teens and young adults. The 16-24 age group is the least likely to buckle up and the most likely to die in a crash.

A new study from AAA shows the law appears to be changing people’s behavior. In 2019, 24% of adults ages 16 and up involved in crashes were unrestrained in the back seat. In 2020, it was 23%. After the law went into effect, that number dipped to 18%.

Carey said while it’s a positive sign, there’s more work to be done.

"There's ‘Click it or Ticket’, but it's also not just about getting that fine or getting that ticket,” said Carey. “It's about saving lives and preventing serious injuries, so the educational aspect has a long way to go, and we're hoping we bring that 18% down to zero."

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.