Urgent Action Needed on NH Seat Belt Bill

  • February 13, 2018
150 150 Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

HB 1259, NH Seat Belt Requirement Bill


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 to ensure all occupants buckle up. New Hampshire is the only state without an adult seat belt law.

Following the hearing, Rep. Mary Jane Mulligan (D, Hanover/Lyme), the bill sponsor, heard from Committee members the vote count is very close. The Committee is expected to reconvene to vote on HB 1259 on or around February 27. The last day that the bill can be acted on is March 1.

Your Help is Urgently Needed to Ensure the Bill Passes Committee:

We need to shore up the support of those voting for HB 1259 as well as tip a few leaning toward NO to vote for the measure. If you have limited time, please send at least an email to the whole Committee at the address provided below.

Action Needed Now:

Please contact the below members of the House Transportation Committee and urge them to vote YES on HB 1259.

Members of the House Transportation Committee:

Chair, Steven Smith (R-11, Sullivan), nhfirst@gmail.com

Vice Chair, Thomas Walsh (R-24, Merrimack), Thomas.Walsh@leg.state.nh.us

Clerk, Thomas Laware (R-8, Sullivan  ), thomas.laware@leg.state.nh.us

Member, Brian Chirichiello (R-6, Rockingham), brian.chirichiello@verani.com

Member, Skip Cleaver (D-35, Hillsborough), Skip.Cleaver@leg.state.nh.us

Member, Casey Conley (D-13, Strafford), casey.conley@leg.state.nh.us

Member, Karel Crawford (R-4, Carroll), karel.crawford@leg.state.nh.us

Member, Glen Dickey (R-5, Hillsborough), Glen.Dickey@leg.state.nh.us

Member, Werner Horn (R-2, Merrimack), werner.horn@leg.state.nh.us

Member, Gladys Johnsen (D-7, Cheshire), johnsengladys@gmail.com

Member, Craig Moore (R-25, Hillsborough), moore4nh@gmail.com

Member, Kari Lerner (D-4, Rockingham), kari.lerner@leg.state.nh.us

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, Charlie St. Clair (D-9, Belknap), Charlie.StClair@leg.state.nh.us

Member, George Sykes (D-13, Grafton), George.Sykes@leg.state.nh.us

Member, Peter Torosian (R-14, Rockingham), peter.torosian@leg.state.nh.us

Member, Chris True (R-4, Rockingham), chris.true@leg.state.nh.us

Member, John Valera (R-38, Hillsborough), (603)478-0013

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

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 % 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% 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 population count of 1.317 million in New Hampshire and 2010 economic crash costs for New Hampshire 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.