HARTFORD — Gove Ned Lamont, the state Department of Transportation Office of Highway Safety and AAA have announced that beginning Friday, October 1, a new Connecticut law will require all passengers to buckle up, regardless of where they are positioned in the vehicle.

The legislation enacting the new law was signed by the governor in July.

“Connecticut was one of the first states to pass a mandatory seat belt law more than 30 years ago; however, it only applied to drivers and front-seat passengers,” Gov. Lamont said. “I applaud and recognize the efforts of those lawmakers and safety advocates who pushed for passage of this lifesaving measure for more than 20 years. With this new law, passengers and drivers in Connecticut will be safer.”

The new occupant protection law will mandate that all passengers in the back seat buckle up. Pre-existing law only required rear-seat passengers under age 16 to buckle up, even though proper restraint use is effective for all ages.

Between 2017 and 2020, there were more than 12,589 injuries of rear seat occupants in Connecticut. During this same period, there were 61 fatalities.

“Our goal is zero fatalities. Unrestrained passengers in the back seat can become projectiles in the event of a crash, causing serious injuries or fatalities,” state Department of Transportation Commissioner Joseph Giulietti said. “This new law will aid in our ongoing effort to reduce motor vehicle fatalities and serious injuries.

“With an increased number of adults riding in the back seats with ride sharing services, this new law is a lifesaving measure for all Connecticut residents on our roadways.”

“This victory is due to the hard work of the Connecticut Department of Transportation, my AAA colleagues, a bipartisan group of legislators, and more than 100 Connecticut organizations across the state, from first responders to medical associations,” Alec Slatky, director of public and government affairs for AAA Northeast said. “Riding unbelted can result in injuries that are as devastating as they are preventable. Everyone should buckle up – in every seat, on every trip.”

“The more we can get those in a vehicle to wear their seat belts, the more lives we’ll save, and that’s why this law is so important,” Jennifer Homendy, chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, said. “I know this was a multi-year effort by a large coalition of dedicated safety leaders in this wonderful state.

“I know it’s been a long journey but I’m so glad you didn’t give up because lives will be saved. All passengers in a vehicle need to be protected. All passengers need to wear their seat belt every single time they’re in a vehicle.”

“Years of automotive safety research has shown us that, in serious car crashes, unrestrained rear-seat occupants experience something called a ‘human collision’, in which they’re thrown around the vehicle,” state Rep. Mitch Bolinsky, R-106, said. “This new law will save countless lives, and I am so grateful to Gov. Lamont, the [state] Department of Transportation and Commissioner Joe Giulietti, the legislature’s Transportation Committee Leadership, including Rep. Lemar, Sen. Haskell, Rep. Carney and Sen. Somers, and all the scientists and advocates for their support in making this life-saving effort a reality.”

“The message is simple. Seatbelts save lives,” state Rep. Cristin McCarthy Vahey, D-133, said. “I am proud that after many years of advocacy we were able to require the use of back seat seatbelts for all ages here in Connecticut. Passing this law is an important step in helping all who travel by car to change their behaviors and buckle up.”

“Seatbelts save lives in every seating position in a car,” Dr. Shea Gregg, chief of Trauma at Bridgeport Hospital, said. “Today, public health, industry, legislators, and the trauma care community stand together to reduce the unnecessary tragedies associated with unrestrained rear seat victims of car crashes.”

“The Connecticut seat belt laws are specifically tailored to protect 16 and 17-year-old drivers, who statistically are more likely to become involved in a collision,” Col. Stavros Mellekas, commanding officer of the State Police, said. “Our troopers will be working enforcement to increase public awareness of the value of seat belt use. The overall goal is increased safety on all Connecticut highways. It takes about three seconds to buckle up. Take the time to save your life or the life of someone else.”

“Passengers in the back who use a seatbelt are more likely to survive a crash and less likely to injure others during a crash, unrestrained adults become living projectiles and are a lethal danger to everyone else in the vehicle with them,” Kevin Borrup, executive director of the Injury Prevention Center at Connecticut Children’s, said. “This law is an important strengthening of Connecticut’s seatbelt law and making everyone safer.”

The new law is subject to secondary enforcement, meaning drivers can’t be pulled over just because there is an unbelted adult in the back seat. However, law enforcement can issue a fine for the unbelted passenger if the driver is pulled over for a primary offense, such as speeding. The fine is $50 if the driver is 18 or older and $75 if the driver is under 18.

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