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Connecticut rear seat belt law goes into effect Friday

Back seat passengers traveling through Connecticut will have to buckle up beginning Friday.

Gov. Ned Lamont signed a law in July requiring passengers in automobiles to wear a seat belt no matter where they are sitting. The current law, which expires at midnight Thursday, does not require back seat passengers older than 16 to wear a seat belt.

Like the current law, police officers cannot pull drivers over just because of a seat belt violation. But if the driver is pulled over for another offense, the driver and the passenger could be fined $50.

The bill is about saving lives, according to Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner Joseph Giulietti.

“Our goal is zero fatalities,” Giulietti said in a statement. “Unrestrained passengers in the back seat can become projectiles in the event of a crash, causing serious injuries or fatalities. 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.”

Sixty-one back seat passengers died in Connecticut automobile crashes between 2017 and 2020, and more than 12,000 were injured, according to information from Lamont’s office.

“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,” said Kevin Borrup, executive director of the Injury Prevention Center at Connecticut Children’s in a statement.

The Connecticut State Police is ready to enforce the new law, according to Colonel Stavros Mellekas, commanding officer.

“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,” Mellekas said. “Our troopers will be working enforcement to increase public awareness of the value of seat belt use. It takes about three seconds to buckle up. Take the time to save your life or the life of someone else.”

Connecticut was one of the first states to pass a mandatory seat law more than 30 years ago, 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,” Lamont said in the statement. “With this new law, passengers and drivers in Connecticut will be safer.”

This article was originally posted on Connecticut rear seat belt law goes into effect Friday