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Cuomo signs bill expanding NY seat belt law to back seat passengers


Interstate 81 onramp

A new state law in New York will require all back seat passengers in motor vehicles to wear seat belts beginning Nov. 1, 2020.

A bill signed today by Gov. Andrew Cuomo will expand New York’s seat-belt law to include all passengers in the back seat of motor vehicles, regardless of age. Until now, passengers age 16 and older were required to wear a seat belt only in the front seat next to the driver. Beginning Nov. 1, New York residents and visitors will be required to wear seat belts in the back seat too. Previously, only those under the age of 16 had to wear a seat belt or be secured in a child restraint system in the back seat.

Violators of the seat-belt law can be fined up to $50 per person. Drivers can also be fined $25 to $100 and receive three penalty points on their driver licenses for each violation. New York became the first state in the nation to pass a law requiring passengers to use seat belts in 1984 during the administration of the late Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, Andrew’s father.

Studies show about 30% of highway deaths in New York involve a person who was not wearing a seat belt. The American Automobile Association pushed for the new law after finding that more than 1,500 adults died in New York since 1985 in accidents where the passenger did not wear a seat belt in the back seat.