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Granite Staters Urged to "Buckle Up" and Stay Alert on Road Trips

July 22, 2009

Concord, NH - The recession is the driving force behind the decision for many Granite Staters to vacation in-state this summer, which means more vehicles on the road and an increased risk of accidents. Offering tips on safety and ways to stretch travel dollars are Steve Gratton, chief executive officer for the Lovering Family Foundation, and Nick Wallner, branch manager for AAA in Concord and spokesperson for AAA Northern New England.

Tough economic times are forcing many Granite Staters to rethink their travel plans this summer. Many are choosing to vacation closer to home - which means fewer airline flights and increased traffic on New Hampshire's roads and highways.

At the Lovering Family Foundation, a nonprofit group whose mission is to educate young New Hampshire drivers about safety, Chief Executive Officer Steve Gratton urges all drivers to use simple measures to reduce the risk of injuries - specifically, he says, to buckle up.

"The numbers of easily preventable injuries could be reduced if everyone wore their seat belts."

Gratton believes New Hampshire's lack of a seat belt law for persons over age 18 is the primary reason the state has one of the lowest seat belt usage rates in the country, below 70 percent. He urges all adults to wear seat belts, not only for their own safety, but to set good examples for children and younger drivers.

Nick Wallner agrees. As the American Automobile Association branch manager in Concord, he adds that another way to maximize safety and travel dollars this summer is to make sure the vehicle is well-maintained before a road trip. That, and planning the travel route in advance, can help save gas - and, along the way, Wallner says staying alert is a must.

"As part of the planning process, take enough rest stops to ensure that they don't drive beyond their means during the day - and to be prepared for traffic situations that usually crop up on Fridays and Sundays."

With a little preparation, Wallner notes, families can travel safely and also take advantage of the many deals and discounts being offered in the state for lodging, meals and various attractions. He suggests the Web site www.visitNH.gov as one resource for close-to-home travel ideas.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - NH