Bill would require backseat passengers to buckle up

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According to a survey by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 28 percent of people do not buckle up in the backseat, say AAA. (PHOTO: NYS SENATE)

ALBANY NY (WRGB) - A growing movement is emerging - one that seeks to get a bill passed which will require all passengers to wear a seal belt, even those in the back seat of a car.

Tuesday, Senator David Carlucci , Assemblyman Walter Mosley, AAA New York State, a backseat crash survivor, and a trauma surgeon appealed to the New York State Legislature.

They rallied around the need to quickly pass legislation requiring passengers buckle up in the back seat. The legislation would also apply to passengers of ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft.

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According to AAA New York State, an unbelted rear seat belt passenger in a vehicle accident is 2 times more likely to be killed, 8 times more likely to be seriously injured, and 2 times more likely to kill a front seat occupant by becoming a projectile.

They also say that in New York State, over the last decade, 289 people have been killed, and 25,596 people have been injured, while unrestrained in the back seat of a motor vehicle.

It is a common misconception by many adults that they do not have to wear their seat belt in the backseat because it is safer. According to a survey by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 28 percent of people do not buckle up in the backseat, say AAA.

“We want to save lives and prevent tragedies,” said bill sponsor Senator David Carlucci. “No matter where you sit in a vehicle, let’s make it habit to buckle up."

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In 1985, New York became the first state in the nation to require drivers and all front-seat passengers wear a seat belt. However, in the backseat only minors under 16 must buckle up, and drivers can be ticketed $50 upon first violation.

Under this new bill, the fine remains the same for the driver if a minor is not buckled up, but if an adult is not wearing their seat belt in the backseat, he or she also faces a $50 fine.

“Too many of the deaths we see on our roads are preventable,” Assemblymember Mosely said. “Since 1985, more than 1,500 adults have lost their lives for failure to wear their seat belt in the backseat. Because of this legislation, many families will be able to avoid the tragedy and heartbreak that over 1,500 families could not."

Laura Casellini suffered catastrophic injuries in a 2011 vehicle crash, just days after graduating from high school, when a drunk driver hit the vehicle she was in. Casellini explained she did not have her seat belt on in the back seat.

“I was in a coma for 4 months, on a feeding tube for many months,” said Laura Casellini. “I had to learn everything all over again, how to use my hands, how to eat, how to talk, how to walk. I was in the hospital and rehab for a year, but I survived. Because of the crash, I will always live with a brain injury."

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She sustained skull fractures, a broken neck, a lacerated kidney, pelvic fractures, and severe traumatic brain injuries.

"I want New York State to pass the seat belt law for everyone, no matter what seat you are in. I know the Legislature and Governor Cuomo will do the right thing and get this bill passed this year, before anyone else has to suffer the way I did.”