"Dad, why does government make so many stupid laws just because they think it will make us safe?" my ten-year-old son asked me yesterday. He was talking about rules not allowing minors to drive ATV's but his point is valid. If he decides to run for Congress, I'll volunteer to be his campaign manager. Sometimes children, who have been untainted by politics, understand the essence of politics better than we as adults do. The essence of politics is liberty.
The campaign to urge states to require seat belts is about as draconian as I have ever seen. If a child sees or hears it, it will scare him out of his wits.
Utah has a primary seat belt law for anyone under the age of 19. This means that if you are driving your children across town and a peace officer notices that one of your kids isn't wearing a seat belt, you get fined. Karen Cooley thinks this is a good thing, because, according to her it would have kept her son alive. The first sentence of the January Deseret News article about Ms. Cooley drips with irony.
Karen Cooley said she always told her son, Nick Good, to wear a seat belt.
Her son was killed when his vehicle wrecked last year. If Ms. Cooley couldn't get her son to wear a seat belt, why would the law have done any better of a job?
Life sometimes sucks. Sometimes you die before you want to. But government's invasion of your privacy will very seldom improve your odds for a longer life. In fact, I'll bet research would show that it reduces your odds overall. But government doesn't get held accountable for that. And if someone is wearing a seat belt but dies in a wreck anyway, does the government care?
I wear a seat belt pretty much everywhere I go. I think it's dumb not to. Interestingly, you want to know how many wrecks it has protected me in? Zero, but I still wear it. I have been know to pull over to the side of the freeway to wait till one of my children puts on his or her seatbelt. I don't need a highway patrol officer to tell me to do that. Nor should the officer be telling someone who choses not to wear a seat belt that he is breaking the law.
There are a lot better campaigns to show the importance of safety belts than to brand people criminals for not wearing them. We have enough problems with relationships with our law enforcement officers already than to require them to enforce such needless laws.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is very excited about the fact that the Click It or Ticket campaign has increased the use of seat belts by 10%! The jury is still out on whether any lives have been saved.