(TRENTON) — Legislation Assemblymen Nelson T. Albano and Matthew W. Milam sponsored to further strengthen the state’s already tough seat belt laws was signed into law on Monday.

“We need to look no further than police reports of accidents over the last several years to see the horrendous consequences of not wearing a seat belt,” said Albano (D-Cumberland/Atlantic/Cape May). “Seat belts save lives, and it’s past time we required everyone in a car to wear them.”

“Buckling up — for a trip around the corner or a trip around the state — is a habit that drivers and passengers alike need to adopt,” said Milam (D-Cumberland/Atlantic/Cape May).

The Albano/Milam measure (A-870) requires all passengers to wear a seat belt, regardless of where they are seated in a passenger automobile.

Under former law, all children under the age of 18, the driver and any front seat passenger of passenger automobiles were required to wear a properly adjusted and fastened safety seat belt. An adult riding in the rear seat of a passenger automobile didn’t have to wear a seat belt.

The bill provides that enforcement of the requirement that rear seat passengers wear a seat belt may only be accomplished by treating a violation as a secondary offense. Also, each rear seat passenger 18 years of age or older of a passenger automobile will be responsible for any fine imposed for failure to wear a seat belt.

The legislators said the need for the legislation is underscored by empirical evidence gathered from automobile accidents.

New Jersey Safety Council crash data shows that unbelted rear seat passengers can act as high-velocity projectiles during an accident, impacting other passengers with enough force to kill or seriously injure all vehicle occupants.

A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proved the use of seat belts by backseat passengers reduces the chance of death and serious injury in a motor vehicle accident by up to 75 percent.

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