New Hampshire’s house of representatives is scheduled to vote tomorrow on a bill to mandate that adults wear seat belts. New Hampshire is the last state in the Union not to have an adult seat-belt mandate. Just in time for the debate, new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data were released Monday. They reveal that New Hampshire has a higher seat-belt usage rate (69.2 percent) than Massachusetts (66.8 percent). Massachusetts, of course, mandates that everyone wear seat belts.
New Hampshire also has the fifth-lowest traffic fatality rate in the nation. Again, it accomplishes this without resorting to a seat-belt mandate.
And yet despite the evidence that a mandate is unnecessary, the house has already given the bill initial approval and is considered likely to pass it again. Why? One point brought up by mandate supporters over and over again this year: If we pass the mandate, we’ll get $3.7 million (FREE!) from Washington.
– Andrew Cline is editorial-page editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader.