NJ rear-seat belt law needs tightening, safety group says
Should New Jersey make unbuckled backseat passengers reason enough for a driver to get pulled over? At least one safety group thinks so.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety released its 16th annual “Roadmap” of state safety laws on Tuesday.
According to the national report, New Jersey saw 624 fatalities on its roads in 2017 and had a 10-year fatality total of 5,830.
The state Division of Highway Traffic Safety has said more than 1,600 unbuckled motor vehicle occupants died on New Jersey’s roadways in the past 10 years.
The state currently has a rear passenger seat belt requirement, but police only can enforce it as a secondary law if a vehicle is stopped for another offense. The fine for not wearing a seat belt in New Jersey is $46.
Twenty states already have a primary enforcement law for rear passengers wearing seat belts.
New Jersey was one of 33 states (along with New York and Pennsylvania) that each received a yellow rating, which on their scale means "improvement is needed."
No state has all of the group's 16 recommended laws on the books. There were six states and Washington, D.C., that ranked green for having the highest number of optimal safety laws. The report gave 11 states a red rating, for having fewer than seven of the suggested safety laws.
The Advocates 2019 Roadmap also said New Jersey should move forward on adopting two more areas of graduated driver licenses (supervised driving requirement and stronger nighttime restriction) and ignition interlocks for all offenders.
According to its website, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety is a D.C.-based alliance of consumer, medical, public health, and safety groups and insurance companies and agents "working together to make America’s roads safer."
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