Taxi, livery drivers will need to wear seatbelts under new law signed by Cuomo

News Desk

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ov. Cuomo overnight Tuesday announced that he signed a bill into law requiring the use of front-seat safety-belts beginning in November.

“It’s a safety issue and it’s long overdue,” Senate bill sponsor Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) told the Daily News. “They should do everything everybody else does. It’s a definite life saver. It does prevent serious injury and death.”

Under existing law, taxis, liveries and buses are excluded from the seat-belt law.

But that will change in November under the new law that was sponsored by Golden and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-Westchester).

According to the law, “no person shall operate a taxi or livery unless such person is restrained by a safety belt approved by the commissioner. No person sixteen years of age or over shall be a passenger in the front seat of a taxi or livery unless such person is restrained by a safety belt approved by the commissioner.”

Violators can be fined up to $100 per incident.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Uber and Lyft drivers and passengers are covered across the state, though officials believe they are in New York City. Golden said if they are not, he expects the Legislature will pass another bill to include ride-sharing companies.

“Cabs have been known to drive a little erratic, especially in New York City,” he said. “For safety sake, people in cabs should be required to wear a seat belt.”

He added that ideally, the state would pass legislation requiring everyone in any type of vehicle to wear seat belts, including police.

“Police don’t wear seat belts, but they give tickets to people who don’t sear seatbelts,” Pretlow said. “And driving is actually more dangerous for them. They drive faster. I’ve never had to be involved in a high-speed chase.”

Golden, a former cop, agrees the state seat belt law should cover front-seat and back-seat passengers in all vehicles, though he says police should be exempted because they often have to quickly exit their vehicles.

He added that many officers on routine patrol often do wear safety belts.

Cuomo also signed a measure that requires children to ride in rear-facing car seats until they are 2 years old or until they have met the height and weight limits on their particular seat. Supporters of bill argued that rear facing seats are better at protecting children from injuries to their heads, necks and spines.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has also recommended that children remain in a rear facing seat until the age of two. Similar laws are already in place in California, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania. u

—With the collaboration
of NY Daily News