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No "Independence Day" from Seat Belts for Safety on NH Highways

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July 3, 2008

Nashua, NH - Safety advocates say when you're on the road this holiday weekend, don't declare your "independence" from buckling up. They're worried that as cars get safer, more drivers think they can skip their seat belt and rely on airbags and other features for protection. Steve Gratton with the Lovering Family Foundation says even the car companies would tell you, the car is only as safe as the belted driver is.

"Having the seat belt on puts the airbag in a position to protect you. If you're not behind the airbag, depending on how you're struck, you might be in the back seat when your airbag is going off and it's not going to do you a darned bit of good."

Gratton says a seat belt can keep you at the wheel during an accident, so you might have a chance to keep a minor collision from becoming something worse.

"The accident's not over until everything comes to a stop. You might be moved out of your driving position on the first impact, but there's a lot of stuff that happens after the first impact."

Gratton races sports cars as a hobby, and he says racers always use a five-point harness system. Off the track, he says only 64 percent of New Hampshire drivers use their seatbelts, compared to 82 percent nationwide.

John Robinson/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - NH