Albany, NY - July 10, 2013 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today reminded New Yorkers to buckle up children while visiting and vacationing in New York State Parks this summer season. New York State Police Acting Troop L Commander, Captain Joseph A. Tripodo and New York State Parks Police Chief Richard K. O’Donnell were joined by Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner and Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee Chair Barbara J. Fiala to deliver the Governor’s message to visitors of state parks at a press conference today. This reminder is necessary after law enforcement noticed a dangerous trend involving vacationers leaving their children unbuckled while visiting state parks.
“During these summer months, when New Yorkers and tourists are traveling to the many vacation destinations available throughout the state including our beautiful state parks, it is important to keep our busy highways and roads safe,” Governor Cuomo said. “This summer, we are enhancing law enforcement efforts across the board statewide, making sure drivers and passengers are using seat belts and keeping their eyes on the road. I urge all motorists to properly buckle up their children so families can enjoy their vacations safely.”
This initiative partners the New York State Police and the New York State Park Police in an enforcement and educational campaign from July 13 to July 28, 2013. The goal is to encourage visiting motorists and their passengers to properly buckle-up their seat belts and teach the importance of properly securing children in approved child safety seats.
Despite the overall success of the recent “Click it or Ticket, Buckle Up New York” campaign, the State Police and Park Police have noticed a disturbing trend of lower seat belt and child restraint violations in proximity to state parks located outside large urban areas. The New York State Park Police issued more than 3,800 tickets for seatbelt and child safety seat violations since 2011.
Since New York State became the first state in the nation to enact a primary seat belt law, effective January 1, 1985, countless lives have been saved. The seat belt compliance rate has steadily increased, reaching a record level of 91 percent in 2011. However, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages one through 12. Based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash data in 2010, almost an average of two children (age 12 and younger in a passenger vehicle) were killed and 325 were injured each day. This fatality rate could be reduced by about half if the correct child safety seat is always used.
“Too often we see vacationers ignoring the rules of buckling up their children,” said Superintendent Joseph D’Amico. “The New York State Police and our law enforcement partners will work diligently to enforce seat belt laws and compliance. Together we can reduce severe injuries and deaths caused by not buckling up.”
Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey said, “Seatbelts save lives, period. Superintendent D’Amico and the New York State Police as well as Commissioner Fiala and those at DMV have been terrific partners in helping get this message across to the 60 plus million that visit our parks every year. It is crucial that visitors buckle up inside our parks just as they would on the highway or a county road. The excitement and beauty offered within our parks can serve as a distraction to many and seatbelts and child restraints aid those who unexpectedly find themselves in a precarious situation.”
Chief of the New York State Park Police Richard O’Donnell said, “It is imperative that park visitors realize that even though they are traveling at speeds of 10, 20 or even 30 mph within our parks that proper safety precautions are taken behind the wheel for themselves and their families. Countless times we have responded to a scene and identified that seatbelts and proper child safety seats have either prevented serious injury or saved a life. A three second act to buckle up is well worth the investment that could ultimately save your life.”
"Seat belt use is the highest New York State has ever seen, but we still have many more motorists to reach," said Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner and Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee Chair Barbara J. Fiala. "We will not be satisfied until all drivers realize that seat belt use is the single most effective way to prevent deaths and injuries in motor vehicle crashes. Wearing a seat belt costs nothing and saves lives."
Today’s event coincides with one of the peak times that visitors travel to state parks throughout New York State, and the state’s goal is for visitors to arrive and depart safely. Increasing seat belt use is one of the most effective ways to reduce crash related injuries and fatalities.