Seat and Shoulder Harness Safety Belts and Passive Restraint Systems Should Adhere to Fedral Motor Vehicle Safety Standards

In People v. Widrick, the defendant was charged with violating Vehicle and Traffic Law 1229-c (3) because, while he was wearing a lap safety belt that was secured, the shoulder harness was placed across his chest and under his arm. The defendant asserted in his defense that he was restrained by a safety belt over his lap and the use of the shoulder harness safety belt as he wore it under his arm was not required under section 1229-c (3). In the case of People v. Clark, the issue was whether the defendant was properly wearing his seat belt because it was "under his arm" rather than over it (see, supporting deposition of Trooper Pound). Mr. Clark told the officer he didn't know he could not wear the seat belt in such a fashion. Vehicle and Traffic Law 1229-c (3) states that "No person shall operate a motor vehicle unless such person is restrained by a safety belt approved by the commissioner. No person ... shall be a passenger in the front seat of a motor vehicle unless such person is restrained by a safety belt approved by the commissioner." The specifications established by the Commissioner are found at 15 NYCRR 49.1 and 49.2 (a) and (b): "PART 49 "SEAT SAFETY BELTS AND SHOULDER HARNESS SAFETY BELTS "(Statutory authority: Vehicle and Traffic Law, 215, 383) ... " 49.1 Introduction "New York has always been a leader in requiring seat belts in vehicles. Since 1962, certain types of vehicles have been required to have seat belts. Other states and the Federal government have also seen fit to follow New York by regulating in this area. New York believes it desirable to have nationwide uniformity. It is in that spirit that this Part is promulgated ... " 49.2 1974 and new vehicles "(a) Every 1974 and newer motor vehicle offered for sale in New York State shall be equipped with seat safety belts and shoulder harness safety belts if required as original equipment or as a condition of importation by Federal law or regulation. This Part shall not apply to those motor vehicles equipped with passive restraint systems (air bags), which conform to Federal motor vehicle safety standard 208 in all respects. "(b) Every seat safety belt and every shoulder harness safety belt shall comply in all respects with Federal motor vehicle safety standards 208, 209 and 210 (49 C.F.R. 571.208, 571.209 and 571.210), as they exist on the day such restraining device is manufactured. This shall apply to both original equipment and replacement equipment."