According to national highway safety resources, teens have the lowest seat belt usage rates. This is true of both drivers and passengers. Male teens are less likely to wear seat belts than are females.
Teens in New Hampshire have an increased risk because New Hampshire is the only state in the country that does not require people eighteen years of age and above to wear seat belts. (aka…”adults don’t have to, why should I?”)
Due to the lack of an 18+ seat belt law, New Hampshire usually has the lowest or one of the lowest seat belt usage rates in the country. This also means that New Hampshire has the nation’s highest or one of the highest unbelted fatality rates (aka…number of people who die in crashes while not wearing seat belts).
New Hampshire’s belt usage rate is measured annually through seat belt observational surveys. The 2019 survey shows a belt usage rate around 70.7%. The national average rate is 89%. New Hampshire’s unbelted fatality rate fluctuates between sixty and seventy percent every year.
Believe it or not, teens do what their parents do. If parents or caretakers aren’t seat belt users, their teens are more likely not to wear them either (at least when no ones watching).
The important fact for us to know is that seat belts, when used properly, reduce the risk of death by about 45% and the risk of moderate to critical injury by about 50%.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), people not wearing seat belts are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a crash. 3 out of 4 people who are ejected during a crash die from their injuries.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), seat belt use saved an estimated 13,941 lives in 2015.
Studies show that teens who have parents who set rules and monitor their driving are twice as likely to wear seat belts vs. teens whose parents are less involved.