July 11, 2013

People urged to buckle up in parks


---- — ALBANY — Police say they have noticed a dangerous trend of vacationers leaving their children unbuckled while visiting state parks.

That led to a reminder Wednesday from New York State Police Acting Troop L Commander Capt. Joseph Tripodo, New York State Parks Police Chief Richard O’Donnell and Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Barbara J. Fiala, who also chairs the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee.

“During these summer months, when New Yorkers and tourists are traveling to the many vacation destinations available throughout the state, including our beautiful state parks, it is important to keep our busy highways and roads safe,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news release issued Wednesday.

“This summer, we are enhancing law-enforcement efforts across the board statewide, making sure drivers and passengers are using seat belts and keeping their eyes on the road.”

The initiative partners State Police and Park Police in an enforcement and education campaign from July 13 to 28.

The goal is to encourage motorists and their passengers to properly buckle their seat belts and teach the importance of securing children in approved child safety seats.

Despite the overall success of the recent Click it or Ticket, Buckle Up New York campaign, State Police and Park Police “have noticed a disturbing trend” of lower seat-belt and child-restraint use around state parks, especially outside large urban areas.

Park Police have issued more than 3,800 tickets statewide for those violations since 2011.

Motor-vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 1 through 12. Based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data in 2010, almost an average of two children (age 12 and younger in a passenger vehicle) were killed and 325 were injured each day.

“It is crucial that visitors buckle up inside our parks, just as they would on the highway or a county road,” Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey said in a statement.

“The excitement and beauty offered within our parks can serve as a distraction to many, and seat belts and child restraints aid those who unexpectedly find themselves in a precarious situation.”

New York State Park Police Chief Richard O’Donnell said that even though the speed limits are 10, 20 or 30 mph within parks, proper safety precautions must be taken.