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Secondary Seat Belt Bill Heads to Full Senate Today

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April 29, 2009

Fasten your seat belts - it's going to be a bumpy day in the New Hampshire state Senate today. Among the many bills up for a vote is a newly-amended secondary seat belt bill, which is a primary concern for Joan Porter of Manchester. Porter testified to a senate panel last week that her sister was killed in 2006 because she was not wearing a seat belt in a car in Texas, where there was no law requiring passengers in the back seat to be belted.

"She was in the rear seat with no seat belt, was ejected out the back window, and was killed."

Porter says evidence shows that when a seat belt law is in place, more people buckle up.

Many opponents of the bill say they don't want the government telling them what to do, and that passage of such a measure would further erode their personal freedoms; but Porter says that for her such claims carry little weight.

"The government tells us constantly that we have to stop at a red light, stop at a stop sign, we have to wear clothes. There's all kinds of laws that the government has instituted. A child says, 'I don't want to be told what to do.' An adult knows that sometimes you just have to follow the rules."

Currently a primary seat belt law is in place in New Hampshire for children under 18. If the secondary seat belt bill for adults passes today, a violation would result in a secondary offense, which means the violation could only be enforced if a driver were stopped by police for another reason.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - NH