On May 21, be sure to start wearing your seat belt because a nationwide operation has begun: Click It or Ticket. I’m so glad law enforcement officials will be observing the seat belt usage of the entire nation. It’s much better than tracking down the crackheads and tweakers in the community. Those types only rob banks and kill people, unlike the losers who don’t wear their seat belts in their own vehicle. Those guys are the worst.
I just don’t get the seat belt issue. Okay, sure, there is some evidence that seat belts can prevent some injuries. Here are some statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website:
- Of the 31,910 vehicle occupants killed in crashes in 2001, 60 percent were not wearing a safety belt. [The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Annual Assessment of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2001]
- Seventy-three percent of the people who were in a fatal crash in 2001 and were restrained survived; of those who were not restrained, only 44 percent survived. [NHTSA, Annual Assessment of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2001]
- In 2001, 63 percent of 16- to 20-year-old drivers and passengers killed or seriously injured in crashes were not wearing a safety belt. [Fatality Analysis Reporting System, 2001 Annual Report File (ARF)]
These statistics are from the government so their veracity is automatically in question. In a statement from a separate entity, CarAccidents, “Failure to wear a seat belt contributes to more fatalities than any other single traffic safety-related behavior. 63% of people killed in accidents are not wearing seat belts. Wearing a seat belt use is still the single most effective thing we can do to save lives and reduce injuries on America's roadways.”
Of those fatalities, how many would have died whether wearing a seat belt or not? When an 18-wheeler rolls over on you, a seat belt won’t do you much good. If it’s for safety, as the government says, that we are being forced to wear our seat belts in our own vehicles, then why do new cars come with jacks for plugging in digital accessories like cell phones? Isn’t that dangerous for drivers? I believe so. In fact, it’s probably one of those jerks who will run into me while I’m not wearing my seat belt.
What of motorcyclists? In Arizona, adults are not required by law to wear a helmet. I’m sitting in my half-ton truck — forced to wear a seat belt — looking at some idiot on a Honda Goldwing with no helmet. At least my government thinks I’m worth saving. I’ve got a seat belt. Ha! Screw the bikers.
I don’t buy the “public safety” crap. Here’s a hint as to another reason, from the NHTSA website: “Motor vehicle crashes in 2000 cost a total of $230.6 billion, an amount equal to 2.3 percent of the gross domestic product, or $820 for every person living in the United States. [NHTSA, Economic Impact of Crashes, 2002]”
Could there be an economic reason behind all this? Sure. Here are some other fascinating aspects of this wonderful campaign, from the National Safety Council’s website.
- Child restraint use for infants under one has risen from 85 percent to 99 percent, and restraint use among toddlers, ages 1-4, has jumped even more dramatically from 60 to 94 percent.
- Adult seat belt use rose from 62 percent to 79 percent – the highest use rate ever – with more than 50 million Americans buckling up.
Then they go on to state:
- Law enforcement agencies from multiple jurisdictions designate several concentrated periods throughout the year to conduct intensive enforcement of seat belt and child passenger safety laws on a statewide or regional basis.
- Observational surveys measuring seat belt and child restraint use are conducted before and after each wave to gauge the effectiveness of the efforts. (Italics added).
Well, of course usage will increase. Everyone knows when to wear their seatbelt. This campaign doesn’t increase safety; it just prevents punishment at certain times – just like any other program of this nature. People are avoiding punitive measures. That’s it.
Dr. Walter E. Williams, a nationally known economist currently on the faculty at George Mason University in Virginia, wrote an article on this subject four years ago that is well worth reading. He makes an interesting point about this being another milestone on our path to serfdom.
There is a theory that people who do not wear their seat belts while driving are actually somewhat safer since they do not have the safety net of the seat belt. They keep their eyes open for potential dangers while driving. Seat belt wearers, on the other hand, just drive like complete maniacs.
Wear your seat belt for a few weeks, make safety statistics spike, and when it’s over, we can all go back to driving like complete idiots.