Compliance with New York's safety belt laws

In 1984 New York State became the first state in the nation to enact a mandatory safety restraint law. Prior to the legislation becoming effective on January 1, 1985, a survey of motorists was conducted which revealed the seatbelt use rate at that time to be a mere 16 percent. Since then dramatic increases in the statewide usage rate have occurred as a result of public awareness campaigns and dedicated seatbelt enforcement by police agencies.

Although significant increases in compliance occurred shortly after inception of the law, the largest gains in seatbelt usage occurred after the New York State Police spearheaded an occupant restraint enforcement campaign in 1999 called "Buckle Up New York". The influence of this zero tolerance, high visibility enforcement initiative has played a major role in raising the seatbelt use rate from moderate usage rates during the eighties to currently over 90%.

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. This collaborative effort has led to a decrease of more than 70% in unrestrained occupant fatalities during crashes since 1998, just before Buckle Up New York was launched.