Get ready to buckle up next time you’re in a cab or ride-share — Senator Brad Hoylman’s law requiring seatbelts is now in effect.
The timely bill introduced in January comes during a 2020 calendar year that has been a bloody one on the city’s roadways, in part because deserted streets have become speedways with the pandemic previously in full effect over the spring months.
After being signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in April, the law states that for-hire cars will need notices inside the vehicles telling passengers, “Seatbelts must be available for your use. [Please] YOU MUST buckle up, IT’S THE LAW.”
Passengers flouting the requirement could be subject to fines of up to $50.
“Passengers often have a false sense of security in taxis, but even minor fender-benders can cause serious injury because passengers are thrown headfirst into the plastic partition meant to protect drivers,” Hoylman said. “Studies show that wearing a seatbelt in the back seat of a car can reduce crash fatalities by as much as 60 percent. according to NYU Langone Hospital located in my senate district, which sees hundreds of injured cab passengers a year in its emergency room, unrestrained passengers are more likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury, too.”
Questions were raised over the effectiveness of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero program as it was found in late October that nearly the same number of traffic deaths had occurred in 2020 as 2014, the year the street safety initiative was launched. So far, this year has seen over 192 traffic deaths in total.
That’s before the deaths of a 54-year-old woman and an 8-year-old girl at the intersection of Jamaica Avenue and 164th Street in Queens after a motorist allegedly jumped a curb.
But primary among Hoylman’s concerns in terms of seatbelt requirement law, the legislation will save the lives of passengers in the backseat of vehicles.
“The passenger injury phenomenon is so common in ERs like NYU Langone that it has its own name: ‘partition face.’ Seatbelts save lives, but so do seatbelt laws,” Hoylman continued. “This is more crucial than ever with more taxis and livery vehicles adding plastic partitions because of COVID-19. I was honored to pass this legislation with Assembly Member Magnarelli and I am grateful for Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins’ leadership in prioritizing vehicle safety laws such as this one.”
Read the full text of the bill here.