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Study: Traffic Fatality Risk Rises on Election Day, NH Reminder to Buckle Up

November 4, 2008

Concord, NH – Voting in New Hampshire might be more dangerous than most people realize. A study published in the "Journal of the American Medical Association" shows that people are 18% more likely to die in traffic accidents during polling hours on presidential election days, compared to other Tuesdays.

Elaine Frank with the Injury Prevention Center at Dartmouth says the statistic is a good reminder to wear a seat belt.

"With the excitement about elections here in New Hampshire, we may be forgetting one of the most important things we can do for ourselves, for our future, every day – and that is to buckle up."

Seat belt use rates in New Hampshire are among the lowest in the nation. Frank attributes that to the state's unique situation in not having a seat belt law for adults.

"What is not unique is that in New Hampshire, like anywhere, unrestrained passengers are four times more likely to be killed than those who are wearing their seat belts."

Frank says the increased traffic accident risk should not keep people from voting; it just should remind them of common-sense safety measures. The research shows that almost all of the deaths could have been prevented through seat belt use, reduced speeds, and less aggressive driving.

The full study can be found at jama.ama-assn.org.

Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Public News Service - NH