In the past, seatbelt laws were laxer. You might pile a bunch of kids in the backseat, and no cop would probably stop you if they saw some of them didn’t have seatbelts.
We’re done with those days, and it’s probably for the best. Serious seatbelt laws keep drivers and passengers safe, even if they don’t feel inclined to wear them independently.
Seatbelt laws vary state by state, though. Some states don’t worry about it quite as much. New York state considers seatbelts serious business. If you drive in New York state, you must wear a seatbelt.
If you’re not from the state, you may not know about backseat passengers and seatbelts. We’ll talk about New York state laws pertaining to that right now.
Are New York State Backseat Passengers Required to Wear Seatbelts?
About 70% of people in vehicles wear seatbelts. This stat counts for all the states combined. That number also stays just about the same as the year’s pass.
That means it’s tough convincing some people to wear seatbelts. Some individuals resist the notion, no matter what laws exist.
The short answer to whether you must wear a seatbelt as a backseat passenger in New York state is yes. In fact, you need to wear a seatbelt if you sit in any seat in a vehicle in New York state. You must wear one if you’re driving the car, you’re in the passenger’s seat, or you’re in any of the rear seats.
If you’re one of the 3 in 10 individuals who don’t wear seatbelts, and a police officer or state trooper catches you in New York state, you’re looking at a ticket. They keep an eye out for the sort of thing, and you must pay $50 if the cops catch you driving without one. You can also expect to pay $25-100 per person for everyone not wearing a seatbelt in the car.
If the police in New York state catch a whole car of people without seatbelts, that’s a high price tag to pay. It can also count against your driving record. You can even lose your license if the police catch you multiple times.
When Did the Law Change?
The backseat seatbelt law changed in 2020, and the police started enforcing it. Highway patrol officers and those in cities look out for things like cars running red lights and speeding, but they also watch out for anyone not wearing a seatbelt. They can pull you over if they spot someone in the backseat who didn’t bother to put their seatbelt on.
You should know that a couple of exceptions exist, though. If you are on a bus, you don’t need to wear a seatbelt. That applies to both private and public buses.
You can also avoid wearing a seatbelt if you are in an emergency vehicle. Even then, though, the state suggests that you wear seatbelts if the vehicle provides them. Most newer emergency vehicles do.
How Many Other States Have This Law?
You might think New York state’s laws seem pretty harsh in this regard. Twenty-nine other states have similar laws at this point, though.
The NHTSA has come out with several seatbelt studies over the years. It feels that seatbelts save a lot more lives than they endanger. It is possible to hurt yourself with a seatbelt on some occasions if it malfunctions. Since they mostly save lives, though, more states come out with similar laws for backseat passengers with each passing year.
Child Restraint Laws
You should also know about something called child restraint laws. Laws exist in New York state that say children must have proper restraints in cars. Generally, you will want to have a child in an appropriate safety seat if they’re the right size and age for one.
If an officer pulls you over in New York state, you can get away with not having a child buckled in with a seatbelt if they’re in the backseat, but they’re too young to use a regular one. You’ll need to have them in a child safety seat, though, and those come with restraints. If the cop sees a young child in the car with no seatbelt and no child safety seat, they will ticket you.
A cop can even write you a summons and try to press child endangerment charges on you if you’re driving with an unrestrained infant in the car and you’re doing something else illegal. If they give you a breathalyzer and you fail it, and you had an unrestrained child in the car as well, they’ll probably throw the book at you.
Wearing a Seatbelt in New York State Makes Sense
Wearing a seatbelt anywhere in the car makes sense, in New York state or anywhere else. Seatbelts hold you in place, and they can save your life if the vehicle stops suddenly or someone else plows into you when you don’t see them coming.
Many people die if they don’t wear a seatbelt and a car hits them. You might grumble if a cop catches you driving or riding in a car without a seatbelt, but they’re right to do so. They’re only watching out for you. If you have to pay a fine, that should remind you to change your no-seatbelt habit.
Some people don’t wear seatbelts because they feel they’re unsafe. While it’s true that a seatbelt will occasionally hurt someone, that doesn’t happen very often. Also, a seatbelt injury is usually preferable to flying through the windshield or sustaining some other serious damage.
You should know that seatbelt models get safer every year. Whenever a seatbelt hurts someone, the manufacturer tries to make it better. It’s not as though the companies that make them want to hurt anyone with them.
Any way you look at it, wearing a seatbelt in New York state is better than the alternative. Don’t think too harshly of the police who try to make sure you wear one.