About 25 Percent of Those Killed in 2011 Crashes Were Thrown From Their Vehicles

Jan 4, 2012

New Hampshire remains the only state that doesn’t require adults to wear seat belts and many of the people killed in the state last year in crashes were thrown from their vehicles.  

By the end of 2011 eighty-eight people had been killed in traffic accidents in the state.

About a quarter of them were either thrown completely from their vehicles or partially ejected, according to state figures.

That means they were probably not wearing seat belts.

“When people are ejected from the vehicles they are two to four times more likely to die in a crash.”

That’s Russ Rader. He’s a spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (http://www.iihs.org/).

But belt use by adults isn’t required in New Hampshire.

Russ Rader:

“New Hampshire holds the unique position of being the only state in the country with no mandatory seat-belt law for adults.”

 In 2010 about 72 percent of New Hampshire motorists were buckled up, according to a federal report. http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811493.pdf

That is the lowest in the nation where the average belt use was 85 percent.

Rader says unbelted occupants are taking a great risk.

“Putting on a seatbelt is the single most important thing people can do to protect themselves in a crash. People are 45 percent less likely to be fatally injured in a crash if they are wearing belts.”

To try and deal with the problem of occupants being thrown from their vehicles the federal government has adopted a new safety regulation.

Beginning next year automakers must start equipping passenger vehicles with devices –to reduce occupant ejection (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-01-19/pdf/2011-547.pdf).

They are likely to be air bags that cover the windows or stronger glass – or a combination of the two.

All vehicles must have such systems by September 2017.

For NHPR News this is Chris Jensen