Live Free And Die? Seat Belt Use in New Hampshire

Written by Gregory Monte.

Yesterday I discussed the case of an individual who was pulled over for a seat belt violation and ended up getting shot by a cop – Seat Belt Ticket Ends in Getting Shot by Cop.

When I started doing further research about this issue I found out something that I didn’t know – New Hampshire is the only state in the Union that does not require adults to buckle up when driving. As you would imagine, this state has the lowest rate of seat belt usage at just 76.4%. This compares with Hawaii which has the highest rate – 97.8%.

This got me thinking. Does it follow that New Hampshire, therefore, has a high traffic fatality rate while Hawaii’s is super low?

It turns out that this is not exactly the case. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s latest data (2018), New Hampshire has a fatality rate of only 10.9 per 100,000 people.

Now, 10.9 may not seem all that great when you note that New York has a figure less than half of that (4.8), but New Hampshire is actually on the list of the 25 states with the least number of fatalities.

Massachusetts is another example of a state that has a low seat belt compliance rate (81.6%) along with a low number of fatalities (5.2). It actually ranks as the second safest state (only New York beats it).

Of course, some states have a low compliance rate AND a high number of fatalities (like South Dakota) and some states have a high compliance rate AND a low number of fatalities (New Jersey). In other words, there doesn’t seem to be a definite and strong correlation between the two (although there are probably other factors involved here).

My main point, however, is that I don’t think the state should require the use of seat belts.

I know, I know, seat belts save lives … but so does refraining from alcohol, smoking, eating too much sugar and processed foods, having unprotected sex, etc., etc. Where do you draw the line?

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