Hampshire police chiefs have switched sides in the debate over broadening the
state’s seat-belt law. For the first time, the chiefs’ association supports
making seat-belt use mandatory for all, not just those under 17.
change, and I guess people do,” Stephen Savage, the association’s president,
told The Associated Press. “There is compelling evidence that it is
necessary – including an alarming rise in fatalities.”
year, 167 people died in traffic accidents in New Hampshire, up 31 percent from
the previous year. Officials estimate at least 41 of the fatalities in calendar
year 2004 could have been prevented if seat belts had been used.
Hampshire, whose motto is “Live Free or Die,” has long resisted a universal
seat-belt law, though every other state has one. It claims 63 percent usage
from encouraging people to buckle up voluntarily. The National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration said its own survey in 2003 found 50 percent usage in the
the police chiefs’ endorsement, Rep. James Pilliod, R-Belmont, recently filed
legislation that would permit police to ticket unbelted drivers and passengers
in vehicles pulled over for another traffic violation, such as speeding or a
rules already are in place in 28 other states. Twenty-one states allow police
to pull over drivers solely for not wearing their seat belts.