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Should We Have Seatbelt Laws?
NO WE SHOULD NOT
First let me qualify all this by saying that I wear my seatbelt every time I drive somewhere. I have seen what can happen to someone who is not wearing a seatbelt in a wreck. It is not pretty. As a pilot I would never consider flying without wearing my seatbelt and harness and, since driving is more dangerous than flying, it would be absurd to travel in a car without wearing seatbelts.
ROLE OF GOVERNMENT AND POLICE
That being said, however, let me rant just a bit about the seatbelt laws. It is not the government’s role or responsibility to pass laws to tell us to be safe. Should we be safe? Absolutely. But we should be safe because it is common sense, not because we are told to by our government. Would you like to have the police come into your house every night as you are getting ready for bed to fine you if you haven’t turned the stove off, or locked your doors? That would be invasive and we would be outraged if it were the law. It is the same thing with the seatbelt law. The police are needed where there is crime. They are needed to protect the innocent from harm by the aggressor. Not to make sure your belt is buckled and that you are not doing anything risky.
RATIONAL BEHIND SEATBELT LAWS (Is there a rational?)
Let’s consider the reason behind the seatbelt laws. If it is about safety then why are children not required to wear seatbelts in school busses? I thought we were very concerned with the safety of our children. In Wisconsin it is legal for an adult to ride in the back of a pickup truck unrestrained and with no cover but those in the cab of the truck must have their seatbelts on or they can be ticketed. Who is more likely to get hurt in a crash? Obviously the one riding in the back and yet there is no law demanding that he be restrained. Do I think there should be more laws governing someone who is riding in the back of a truck? Certainly not! I am merely pointing out that if the folks who make up these laws actually think they are addressing safety then they have a very narrow view of who is at risk and, therefore, are not effective in coming up with a solution that helps.
WHERE DO YOU DRAW THE LINE?
You might be inclined to argue with me and say that without seatbelt laws many folks who wear their belts because of the law would not buckle up without it. I cannot deny that this is so, however, folks that require a law to tell them to exercise common sense are not going to exercise it on their own. They will find other ways to be dangerous. Do we need laws to govern their every action to make sure they are safe? How about a law stating that these folks hold onto the handrail when climbing stairs? Would you like to be fined if you let go of the handrail to stop your child from falling when she loses her balance? How about a fine for not looking both ways before crossing the street? Should you cross the street without looking for traffic? As teenagers are frequently heard saying: DUH! Of course you should look first. But while you are walking down the sidewalk would you like to have a police man watching you and waiting for you to slip up so he can give you a ticket for not looking both ways? I wouldn’t.
Here is something else to think about: child car seats. These are a terrible frustration while buckling them into the automobile but once they are in place they are not so bad. They are quite effective in protecting a small child in the event of a crash. Some of them are also quite comfortable for the child with padding to lay a head against when sleeping, big armrests, etc. So what problem do I have with them? None with the seats themselves but with the laws. The law tells us we have to keep our children restrained in these seats when they are traveling in a car. On a two hour road trip they have to be restrained the whole time if you are to obey the law. If you tied your child to a chair in your house for two hours and someone caught you there would be child abuse charges. So in a society such as ours that so abhors child abuse, (as well we should), where is the sense in a law demanding that we do something that would be considered abusive? Who thinks up these things?
Now, please, let me assure the reader that I have appropriate car seats for all my children that are small enough to need them and I am in compliance with the law. I do make my kids sit in these seats and wear their seatbelts when we are driving. Yes even on long trips. I just try to stop frequently and let them get out and run around some. Once again, I do believe in wearing seatbelts. I just don’t like the powers that be taking it upon themselves to pass laws that tell me to protect myself.
MORE AND MORE LAWS?
Everywhere you look you will discover people not exercising common sense. You might want to question their sanity over some of the chances they take. The answer is not to pass more and more and MORE laws to force us to comport ourselves in a safe manner. All that does is make it more likely for us to accidentally or by necessity, break a law and have to pay a fine. Could that be the reason for the laws: revenue generation? I hope not but it does seem to fit.
CLICK IT REGARDLESS OF TICKET
Well, I have not solved any of the worlds problems with this article but I thank you for reading it and allowing me to share my thoughts with you. And remember, when you travel, buckle up. But do it because it is the smart thing to do, not because it is the law.