New Hampshire Should Avoid the Trap of Mandatory Seat Belts
CONCORD -- The legislature this week will hold a hearing on HB383, sponsored by Rep. Sandy Kelly of Chichester, to mandate seat belt use for all drivers. The Libertarian Party of NH believes this bill is unnecessary, a great expansion of police power, and will not significantly increase seat belt use.
Survey after survey shows overall seat belt use across the country remains low. New Hampshire drivers are more likely to buckle up, one study by Franklin Pierce Law School shows that NH motorists buckle up 8% more than the national average.
Studies show that legal mandates and increased fines do not greatly increase seat belt use. The best way is through social encouragement, such as asking people directly to buckle up, or polite signs thanking them for buckling up. Even in states with mandatory seat belt laws, overall use of them remains low. So if the goal of this bill is to increase seat belt use, it won't work, New Hampshire drivers are already above average.
This mandate seems aimed at one thing, bringing in money. It creates new $50 and $100 fines. "With the State facing a massive budget shortfall caused by irresponsible spending, the Legislature is looking for any excuse to raid the wallets of average citizens", said Denis Goddard, a member of the Seat Belt Commission and Vice-Chair of the Libertarian Party of NH.
This bill diverts precious police resources away from actual crime and actual dangers. "Are there no more speeders? No tailgaters? Have all of the drunken drivers been removed from the roads? Why would the legislature propose diverting resources from public safety issues to a private safety issue? When a person chooses not to wear a seat belt, he harms only himself. While the police are ticketing people for this non-offense, bad drivers who threaten us all will be passing by. As is so often the case with misguided public policy, the actual effect will be adverse - a reduction in public safety." said Philip Hodson, chairman of the Libertarian Party of NH.
This law is unnecessary and New Hampshire motorists deserve better. The LPNH asks everyone to contact their legislator and ask them to vote against this bill and get onto more pressing matters and actual problems facing the state.