New seat belt proposal sparks controversy

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(WBNG) — Governor Andrew Cuomo is proposing to extend the state’s seat belt law, requiring all passengers of a vehicle to buckle up.

Under current law, those over the age of 16 do not have to wear a seat belt in back seat.

Some people think the proposal will keep people safe.

“It could save lives! And anything that could save lives is a good thing,” said Philip Goodman of Binghamton.

“I think everybody should wear seat belts in cars,” said Diane Hunt of Binghamton. “Accidents happen. It might not be yours, it might be somebody else.”

Others say they are capable of making a decision for themselves.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea. It’s just like a reach to get into people’s pockets. You’re sitting in the back seat, you know the risks. You know the risks in the front seat. You’re an adult, you’re a big person, make your decisions accordingly,” said Roy Cornielle of the Bronx.

“You know I’m like 20 years old I think I should be able to make the decision whether or not I’m safe sitting in the backseat of a car,” said Zachary Kiballa of Owego.

Local first responders agree the measure could save lives.

“You’re surrounded by airbags in most modern cars. If you’re not seat-belted in front of that airbag, that airbag is going to pop you around like a ping pong paddle,” said Union Volunteer Emergency Squad Deputy Director of Operations Jim Morris.

He says it’s especially important that adults are buckling up in the back seat.

“Adults are more massive than children so they follow farther and when they’re unrestrained we usually don’t find them inside their vehicles. They’re usually somewhere on the scene if we find them at all,” said Morris.

The Union Volunteer Emergency Squad is a step ahead of the proposal, already making changes in its new vehicles that used to have bench-style seating.

“The seat itself moves back and forth now so we don’t have to be unrestrained,” said Morris. “If you’re sick you don’t want me flying and landing on you.”

While this has the potential of being a new law for New York, 28 other states and Washington DC already have some kind of back seat seat belt legislation.

Governor Cuomo inserted the new seat belt proposal in amendments to his state budget. That budget is expected to be voted on by lawmakers before April 1.

Annabelle Flaherty

Annabelle Flaherty

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