UPDATE: HB 1259, NH Seat Belt Requirement Bill
URGENT ACTION NEEDED
Bill Status: On February 6, the New Hampshire General Court House Transportation Committee heard House Bill (HB) 1259. This bill would enact a primary enforcement seat belt requirement for all occupants. New Hampshire is the only state without an adult seat belt law.
The Committee will reconvene to vote on HB 1259 on next Tuesday, February 27. The House is then expected take up the bill on March 8, whether the bill passes Committee or not.
Your Help is Urgently Needed to Ensure the Bill Passes Committee: The Committee vote count is now reported to have tipped in favor of the opposition. We need to shore up the support of those voting for HB 1259 and convince as many reported NO votes as possible to vote YES. Please send an email to the whole Committee and the Members of Leadership at the addresses provided below. Please note that the Deputy Speaker spoke against the bill in Committee.
Action Needed Now:
Please contact the Transportation Committee members and leadership ASAP and urge them to vote YES on HB 1259.
Members of the House Transportation Committee Vote Count:
Chair, Steven Smith (R-11, Sullivan), firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice Chair, Thomas Walsh (R-24, Merrimack), Thomas.Walsh@leg.state.nh.us
Clerk, Thomas Laware (R-8, Sullivan), email@example.com
Member, Brian Chirichiello (R-6, Rockingham), firstname.lastname@example.org
Member, Karel Crawford (R-4, Carroll), email@example.com
Member, Glen Dickey (R-5, Hillsborough), Glen.Dickey@leg.state.nh.us
Member, Werner Horn (R-2, Merrimack), firstname.lastname@example.org
Member, Craig Moore (R-25, Hillsborough), email@example.com
Member, Charlie St. Clair (D-9, Belknap), Charlie.StClair@leg.state.nh.us
Member, Peter Torosian (R-14, Rockingham), firstname.lastname@example.org
Member, Chris True (R-4, Rockingham), email@example.com
Member, John Valera (R-38, Hillsborough), (603)478-0013
Member, Skip Cleaver (D-35, Hillsborough), Skip.Cleaver@leg.state.nh.us
Member, Casey Conley (D-13, Strafford), firstname.lastname@example.org
Member, Gladys Johnsen (D-7, Cheshire), email@example.com
Member, Kari Lerner (D-4, Rockingham), firstname.lastname@example.org
Member, Michael O’Brien (D-36, Hillsborough), Michael.O’Brien@leg.state.nh.us
Member, Timothy Soucy (D-16, Merrimack), Tim.Soucy@leg.state.nh.us
Member, George Sykes (D-13, Grafton), George.Sykes@leg.state.nh.us
Member, Ivy Vann (D-24, Hillsborough), Ivy.Vann@leg.state.nh.us
To Message the entire Committee, send your email to: HouseTransportationCommittee@leg.state.nh.us
Majority House Leadership:
Speaker: Gene Chandler (R), Gene.Chandler@leg.state.nh.us
Deputy Speaker, Sherman Packard (R): email@example.com
Majority Leader: Dick Hinch (R), firstname.lastname@example.org
Minority House Leadership:
Minority Leader: Steve Shurtleff (D), email@example.com
Deputy Democratic Leader: Cindy Rosenwald (D), Cindy.Rosenwald@leg.state.nh.us
Asst. Democratic Leader: Mary Jane Wallner (D), Maryjane.Wallner@leg.state.nh.us
Talking Points Supporting Seat Belt Laws:
Please feel free to use the below talking points when you contact Committee members. If you have experienced any personal connection about an unrestrained crash, please also convey it.
NH Traffic Safety Information:
- 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 (69 fatalities) were unbelted, 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).
- Since 2009, when the last seat belt bill was offered in New Hampshire, through 2016, 431 unrestrained people have been killed on the state roads. The time to act to protect New Hampshire families is NOW.
- Seat belts not only save lives and prevent lifelong debilitating injuries, they also save taxpayer dollars.
- 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.[i]
- 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).
Dangers of Unbelted Occupants:
- Child restraint use drops by 40 percent when parents don’t use their seat belts (NHTSA).
- Air bags are designed to work with seat belts, not replace them. If you don’t wear your seat belt, you could be thrown into a rapidly opening frontal air bag. Such force could injure or even kill you (NHTSA).
- In fatal crashes 81 percent of passenger vehicle occupants who were totally ejected from the vehicle were killed (NHTSA). Only one percent of the occupants reported to have been using restraints were totally ejected, compared with 30 percent of unrestrained occupants (NHTSA).
- Further, the proportion of unrestrained passenger vehicle occupants killed that were seated in the front seat was 47 percent, compared to 57 percent of unrestrained passenger vehicle occupants killed that were seated in the rear seat (NHTSA). An optimal seat belt law must cover both front and rear seat passengers.
- Unbelted rear seat passengers pose a serious threat to the driver and other vehicle occupants.
- “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.”[ii]
- Seat belt use in the rear seat is especially critical as the safety infrastructure built into the vehicle is not as developed in the rear seat as it is in the front seat.[iii]
Strong and Broad Support for Primary Enforcement, All-Occupant Seat Belt Laws:
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
The Injury Prevention Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
Mothers Against Drunk Driving
National Safety Council of Northern New England
National Transportation Safety Board
New Hampshire American College of Surgeons
New Hampshire Emergency Nurses Association
New Hampshire Nurses Association
New Hampshire Public Health Association
New Hampshire Traffic Safety Institute
Thanks so much for your assistance in advancing HB 1259.
[i] 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).
[ii] Mayrose, James, Influence of the Unbelted Rear-seat Passenger on Driver Mortality: ‘‘The Backseat Bullet”, Academic Emergency Medicine, Volume 12, Issue 2. Article first published online: 28 June 2008.
[iii] Sahraei at al. Reduced Protection for Belted Occupants in Rear Seats Relative to Front Seats of New Model Year Vehicles, Proc AAAM, 2010.