My daughter’s high chair has a seat belt affixed. It is helpful for keeping her in place when she’d rather be climbing up and over the back of the chair. She is almost a year old. She doesn’t understand that if she climbs out of the chair she might fall and get hurt. The seat belt saves her from injury, but only if I remember to buckle it for her. I don’t want her to get hurt so I do remember to buckle the belt whenever I put her in the seat. The seat belt doesn’t protect her, I protect her by using the seat belt.
When I’m driving my truck I can choose to wear my seat belt or not. I always wear it because I don’t see any good reason not to. I don’t find the belt uncomfortable, I don’t think it makes me look stupid, and I don’t find it a threat to my manliness to exercise manufacturer recommended safety protocol. I wear a seat belt because it seems like a good idea…oh yeah, and it’s the law. That’s what I’d like to write a little bit about.
It is now a primary law in most states, and a secondary law in the rest (except NH where it is neither), for adults to wear a seat belt while occupying the front seat of a vehicle. A primary law means that failure to comply is probable cause for a police officer to make a traffic stop. Secondary means that a citation can be issued for it if the traffic stop is made for another condition. IT IS THE LAW. Don’t worry that it just makes sense, it is the law. Click it or ticket, as the ad campaign goes. Exercise common sense or pay the fine.
On one level I don’t care about the seat belt law. It’s like making a law that says breathe or go to prison. Fine, I automatically breathe anyway, I can’t really turn it off, frankly, I wouldn’t want to. But if I did stop breathing, who suffers except for me? Why would there need to be a law to require me to breathe? The point is, I’m always going to breathe as long as I can, just like I’ll always wear a seat belt if the option is available. To me it makes sense.
On another level I am strongly opposed to the seat belt laws because I don’t see what purpose the law serves for the general population, at least when we are talking about adults. When I go out driving, the likelihood of my involvement in a traffic accident is not increased or decreased dependent on whether or not I am wearing a seat belt. If not wearing a seat belt doesn’t interfere with anyone else, then why am I required to wear one? Unless the law is in place to keep my body from becoming a missile of flesh and bone in the event it is thrown through the windshield during an accident, potentially endangering other people. Who is the law protecting? If it is protecting the individual only then I don’t think it is necessary.
They say that seat belts save lives. If that is true then New Hampshire without any seat belt laws should have way more traffic fatalities per capita than any other state. This isn’t the case. Granted, there are many other factors that play into road deaths, but they say the seat belt laws save lives, so I have to take them at their word. In the event of an accident you are likely better off wearing the seat belt, but the seat belt won’t prevent the accident.
What is my issue with seat belt laws then? I don’t like that the government thinks they need to control every aspect of life as though the citizens are not capable of managing their own affairs. I don’t wear a seat belt because it is the law, I wear it because I think it is safe to do so. But it is my choice either way. They can claim it is for public safety, but I don’t accept that. I think it is for increasing the treasury balance through extraneous fines or it is for the purpose of creeping more and more control onto the public.
It starts with seat belts, then it becomes bike helmets, then it becomes surgeon general warnings, then caloric counts on menus, then beverage cup sizes, then style of firearm. But where does it end?
What do you think? Am I off the deep end without an approved personal flotation device, or is there a faction working fast to make us the United Nanny-states of America?