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The number of motorists using seat belts in the state continues to climb, State Police Superintendent James W. McMahon said Thursday.

During a 10-day enforcement sweep earlier this month, police reported 86 percent of people used seat belts, a record high in the state and up from 82 percent recorded in the last effort in May.

Police issued 47,170 tickets for seat belt violations, including 1,358 for failure to use a child seat.

In the late 1990s, seat belt use was at 75 percent in New York despite enactment of the nation's first mandatory seat belt law more than a decade earlier. Police say failure to use a seat belt is the leading factor in highway fatalities, greater than alcohol or speeding.

The law states that seat belts must be worn by occupants in the front seat regardless of age and, starting Oct. 1, rear seat passengers under age 16. Children under age 4 must be in a child safety seat.

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