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Buckle Up! Highway Safety Report Shows Frightening Low Number Of People Wearing Seat Belts In Back Seats

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A new highway safety report shows an unimpressive number of people are buckling up when they sit in the back seat of a vehicle and at least half of last year's rear seat fatalities may have been prevented if the passengers fastened their seat belts.

Federal data shows in 2018 alone, 803 people were killed in crashes while sitting unrestrained in the back seat of a vehicle. Safety experts say more than 400 of them might have survived if they had fastened their seat belts.

"It's the simplest thing you can do when you get into a car, just buckle your seat belt," said Russ Martin, the Governors Highway Safety Association director of policy and government relations.

A new report by the GHSA shows 90% of adults buckle up in the front seat, but only about 76% do in the back. Even fewer wear seat belts in for-hire vehicles. Only 57% of passengers surveyed said they took the time to buckle up.

"The ride is really quick and it's over really soon," one person said.

New Jersey requires rear seat belt use for all ages but it's a secondary law, only enforced if the vehicle is stopped for another reason.

New York and Connecticut only require children 16 and under to wear rear seat belts.

RELATED STORY: Gov. Cuomo Pushing For New Law Requiring All Back Seat Passengers To Use Seat Belts

Sen. David Carlucci has been fighting to change that, sponsoring a bill requiring everyone to wear a seat belt no matter where you sit in a vehicle.

"This will save lives. This will prevent injury," he said. "If you're not wearing a seat belt, your body becomes a projectile that can kill someone else in the vehicle."

The bill passed the state Senate and Carlucci is optimistic the Assembly will follow suit in January.

The safety report recommends all states pass and enforce strong laws and promote the benefits of belt use in every seat.

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