Seat belt use has climbed steadily in New York, an unequivocal win for traffic safety. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seat belt use can reduce the risk of fatality in a car accident by 45 percent, and reduce the likelihood of a moderate to severe injury by half. The increase in seatbelt use over the last several decades has undoubtedly saved lives.
Two non-profit groups are now attempting to do more, prompting the NHTSA to require vehicles to issue seatbelt warnings for rear passengers by filing a lawsuit against the federal agency.
NHTSA sued for failing to enforce rear seatbelt warnings
Two non-profit groups have also filed a lawsuit against the NHTSA for failing to implement seatbelt rules for rear seat passengers. Congress passed legislation in 2012 requiring new vehicles to warn rear passengers when they were unbuckled. Supposed to have taken effect in 2015, the NHTSA has yet to implement a final rule for automakers. The lawsuit seeks to force the NHTSA to implement a final rule within one year.
Over 93 percent of drivers and passengers wear seatbelts
The New York Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee recently noted that over 93 percent of New Yorkers wear seatbelts every time they are in a vehicle. This may in part be due to New York being a “primary enforcement” state, meaning police can pull over and ticket any driver who is not wearing a seatbelt.
As a personal injury law firm that regularly handles cases involving the seriously injured, we know that accidents can lead to serious injury even when everyone is buckled. Regardless of the law and whether automakers will be required to warn rear seat passengers, it makes sense to buckle up. Clearly, the majority of New Yorkers agree with this rule.