Compliance with N.Y.'s safety belt laws
Between 1984, when New York State enacted the nation's first mandatory safety restraint law, and 1998, seat belt use increased from 12 percent to 74 percent statewide. While this increase may appear dramatic, the greatest gains were made during the 1980s. The growth in seat belt use stagnated through the late 1990s.
Numerous lives were needlessly lost on New York State's highways. Failure to wear safety restraints was the number one single cause of death on New York's highways.
Therefore, in May 1999, the New York State Police spearheaded a safety restraint enforcement compliance campaign called "Buckle Up New York," designed to increase safety restraint use in New York to 85 percent by the end of the year 2000. It was estimated that if New York State could achieve this goal, at least 148 lives and $400 million in associated costs could be saved every year. This campaign has brought together more than 500 police agencies, joined in a common cause - to put an end to needless and preventable deaths and injuries resulting from not being properly restrained when a crash occurs.
Since then, more and more people have begun to wear their own safety belts, and also put their children in proper restraints. Nearly every gain, though, has been followed by a slight loss, resulting in a "ratcheting" effect. Still, New York's progress has been steady, and recently, the state's safety belt compliance rate rose above 90% for the first time in history, according to state police surveys conducted throughout New York (with the exception of New York City).