If New Hampshire nanny state partisans have their way, you will soon be fastening your seat belt not because you choose to, but because you are ordered to. It kind of makes driving around with “Live Free or Die” on your license plates a bit ironic, no?

Come to think of it, we wouldn’t be surprised if the Democratic-controlled Legislature goes after our state motto next.

New Hampshire has long prided itself on resisting big government efforts to coerce individuals to get in line. The voluntary seat belt stand has been a strong symbol of that independent streak.

It’s not that drivers here are dunces. We know that using seat belts makes sense and for many years that usage has been at or near the national average and better than some states where it is mandatory to buckle up.

Republican Rep. Peter Torosian of Atkinson noted that highway safety in New Hampshire is comparable to surrounding states and that auto insurance rates here are very competitive.

“If this was a problem,” he observed, “the industry would be punishing us with higher rates.”

As of this writing, Gov. Chris Sununu had yet to say where he stands on this seat belt mandate. The Governor’s Highway Safety Agency has long been a strong defender of our voluntary approach and has favored education rather than coercion to promote seat belt usage.

But that’s no longer the case. That agency is now under the Department of Safety and appears to be in favor of swapping “Buckle Up or Else” for “Live Free or Die.”

Gov. Sununu may want to have a chat with these folks.

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