NH Seat Belt Bill HB 1259 Separating Fact from Fiction: Floor Vote March 15

  • March 12, 2018
150 150 Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety


Support HB 1259 to help ensure everyone buckles up on every trip


Fiction: New Hampshire does not need a seat belt law.

FACT: Occupant protection in New Hampshire urgently needs an upgrade.

  • In 2016, traffic fatalities spiked 20 percent and killed 136 people on New Hampshire roads, the largest number of lives lost since 2008 (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)).
  • In 2016, 74 percent of motor vehicle fatalities were unbelted (69 fatalities), when restraint use was known (NHTSA). Insufficient seat belt use is a serious public health and safety issue in urgent need of the solution that HB 1259 provides.
  • Seat belts saved the lives of 29 people on New Hampshire’s roads in 2016, and yet 22 more people could have been saved by 100 percent seat belt use (NHTSA).


Fiction: My car has airbags so I don’t need to wear a seat belt.

FACT: Airbags are made to be used with seat belts. If you don’t wear your seat belt, you could be thrown into a rapidly opening frontal air bag. This force could severely injure or kill you (NHTSA).


Fiction: I don’t need a seat belt if I’m not traveling far and I’m going slowly.

FACT: The majority of fatal crashes occur within 25 miles from home, at less than 40 mph (NHTSA).   Fiction: New Hampshire passed a minor seat belt requirement so our kids are safe.

FACT: Child restraint use drops by 40 percent when parents don’t use their seat belts (NHTSA).


Fiction: Not wearing a seat belt helps you survive a car crash because you can be trapped in a fire or under water.

FACT: Wearing a seat belt is a lifesaver in approximately 99.5% of crashes. Crashes involving fire or water account for ½ of 1%. Furthermore, you need to be conscious to escape and wearing a seat belt raises your chances of being conscious and able to escape. (NHTSA)


Fiction: We don’t need a seat belt law. We just need more education to get people to buckle up.

FACT: Education alone is not enough. If it was, the problem would have been resolved. While educational efforts can help bring awareness about the safety benefits of seat belt use, decades of government and academic research has consistently shown that education is not an effective substitute for a lifesaving law.


Fiction: Not wearing a seat belt is my choice and I’m not hurting anyone else.

FACT: Unbelted drivers and passengers pose a serious threat to other vehicle occupants as well as to the driver trying to maintain control of the vehicle. Studies have found that the odds of death for a belted driver seated directly in front of an unrestrained passenger in a serious head-on crash was 2.27 times higher than if seated in front of a restrained passenger. Unbelted rear seat passengers are called “backseat bullets” because of the dangers and destruction they cause.


Fiction: Not wearing a seat belt is my choice and it doesn’t cost anyone else.

FACT: Motor vehicle crashes cost New Hampshire nearly $1.4 billion annually (NHTSA). Unbelted crash victims have medical bills that are 55 percent higher than belted victims, and society bears a majority of the cost through increased insurance premiums, taxes, and health care costs (NHTSA). These costs essentially result in a “crash tax” of $1,043 for every New Hampshire resident.*


Fiction: Not wearing a seat belt is a personal choice that does not impact anyone but me.

FACT: Unbelted occupants are costly to businesses. Nationally, in 2013, injuries to people who were not wearing their safety belts cost employers $4.9 billion (NETS, Cost of Crashes Report 2015).


Since 2009, when the last seat belt bill was offered in New Hampshire, through 2016, 431 unrestrained people have been killed on state roads.

Send an email to the House of Representatives at hreps@leg.state.nh.us and urge them to vote YES on HB 1259!


*Calculation based on the Census Bureau 2010 NH population count of 1.317 million and 2010 NH economic crash costs estimated at $1.374 billion (NHTSA).