New Hampshire Teen Driver Program

Seat Belts

One of the safest choices drivers and passengers can make is to buckle up.1 Tragically, seat belt use is lowest among teen drivers.2 The majority of teenagers involved in fatal crashes are unbuckled.2 In 2020, 52% of teen driver who died were unbuckled.2 Even more troubling, is when a teen driver was involved in a fatal crash and unbuckled, 9 out of 10 of the passengers who died were also unbuckled.2 There may be a false notion that teens have the right to choose whether or not to buckle up; but it is the Law. New Hampshire law requires anyone under the age of 18 who is driving or riding in a vehicle to be properly restrained.3 Drivers of vehicles with unrestrained or improperly restrained youth can receive a $62.00 fine for the first offense and $124.00 for a subsequent offense.3

In 2021 the national use rate of a seat belt was at 90.4%.1 Seat belt use in passenger vehicles have saved an estimated 14,955 lives.1

The consequences of not wearing, or improperly wearing, a seat belt are clear:

  1. Buckling up helps to keep you safe and secure onside your vehicle, whereas not buckling up can result in being totally ejected from a vehicle in a crash; which is almost always deadly.1
  2. Air bags are not enough to protect you; in fact, the force of an air bag can seriously injure or even kill you if you’re not buckled up.1
  3. Improperly wearing a seat belt, such as putting the strap below your arm, puts you and your children at risk in a crash.1

The benefits of buckling up are equally clear:

  1. If you buckle up in the front seat of a passenger car, you can reduce your risk of:1
      o Fatal injury by 45%.1
      o Moderate to critical injury by 50%.1
  2. If you buckle up in a light truck, you can reduce your risk of:1
      o Fatal injury by 60%.1
      o Moderate to critical injury by 65%.1

The Top 4 Things You Should Know About Buckling Up

  1. Buckling up is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in a crash
      o Seat belts are the best defense against impaired, aggressive, and distracted drivers.1 Being buckled up during a crash helps keep you safe and secure inside your vehicle.1
  2. Air bags are designed to work with seat belts, not place them
      o If you don’t wear your seat belt, you could be thrown into a rapidly opening frontal air bag.1 Such force could injure or even kill you.1 Learn more about air bag safety here.
  3. Guideline to buckle up safely
      o The lap belt and shoulder belt are secured across the pelvis and rib cage, which are better able to withstand crash forces than other parts of your body.1
      o Place the shoulder belt across the middle of your chest and away from your neck.1
      o The lap belt rests across your hips, not your stomach.1
      o NEVER put the shoulder belt behind your back or under an arm.1
  4. Fit matters
      o Before you or your parents/caregiver buys you a new car, check to see that its seat belts are a good fit for you.1

Bottom Line:

It only takes a few seconds to buckle up, but it could make the difference of a lifetime.

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