Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Better buckle up if you’re heading to a New York state park.
The New York State Police and the State Parks Police announced Thursday they are launching an enforcement and educational campaign designed to ensure the proper use of seatbelts by motorists and passengers traveling to state parks.
Both agencies will also emphasize the importance of properly securing those who must ride in approved child safety seats.
The joint summer enforcement initiative seeks to increase compliance and raise awareness of this issue.
Despite the success of the “Click it or Ticket, Buckle Up New York” campaign, there are still motorists who don’t comply. The state police and park police report noticing a trend of lower seatbelt and child restraint use near state parks located outside large urban areas.
According to the state police, since New York state in 1985 became the first state in the nation to enact a primary seatbelt law, the seatbelt 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 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.
Police say this fatality rate could be reduced by about half if the correct child safety seat were always used.
“As the summer travel season continues, the State Police, State Parks Police, and our law enforcement partners strongly encourage the proper use of seat belts and child safety seats in motor vehicles,” said New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico. “We will be working diligently to promote proper seatbelt use and compliance, and reduce the senseless tragedies caused by people who ignore the seat belt laws.”
New York State Park Police Chief Richard O’Donnell said the protection of children is a priority for state park police officers. He also warned parents that officers enforce the vehicle and traffic law and state park regulations.
“I urge all parents and guardians to protect their own children by not allowing them to ride in overcrowded vehicles and by ensuring that every child is wearing a seatbelt or riding in an appropriate child safety seat,” O’Donnell added.
The crackdown coincides with one of the peak times that visitors travel to state parks throughout the state, officials said.