A new survey in New Jersey shows fewer and fewer people are using seat belts when riding in the back seat of cars despite a 2010 law requiring it.

The survey done by the New Jersey Institute of Technology for the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety shows back-seat passengers buckled up just 39 percent of the time last year, a decline from 44 percent in 2014.

Division of Highway Traffic Safety spokesman Bob Gaydosh says that no matter where you are in a car, "any object or any person that is unrestrained in the vehicle is going to go airborne in a crash.

"Clearly there is a disconnect between front seat belt usage and rear seat belt usage. We are just over 91 percent front seat usage rate, but a 39 percent rear seat usage is actually declining, based on the last couple of years."

Gaydosh speculates that it is probably a convenience thing more than anything else. He also says that we probably do not feel it is as important to buckle up in the rear seat as it is in the front.

But Gaydosh says it is critical for the people in the rear seats to be buckled up, "if they are not, then they turn into what we call 'backseat bullets' in the event of a crash."

The fine for failure to buckle up in the backseat is $46, but there have been some calls to raise that fine ever since the the law was enacted in 2010.

Gaydosh believes part of the problem is awareness.

"we just need to get the message out, I guess, a little bit better," he said. "We have strong laws in place in New Jersey, we have a police community that is out there enforcing these laws."

Gaydosh said cops will be using the national "Click It or Ticket" enforcement campaing in April to promote and enforce the back-seat seatbelt law.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor at New Jersey 101.5

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