Click it or Stick It

It appears from the current "Click it or Ticket" campaign that there is a federal law requiring people to wear seat belts. There's actually not. Beside the fact that the CIOT commercials sound like a mafia shakedown, it is not the responsibility of government to ensure that we are safe.

"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.


  1. Amen! I have a very libertarian attitude on stuff like this even though I personally believe very strongly in wearing seat belts.

    Davis County is going to pass an ordinance outlawing smoking OUTDOORS in public places. I feel about the same on this idea as I do with the seatbelt/motorcycle helmet laws. Smokers who are toking outside are only killing themselves...why do we have to make them outlaws?

    Of course...we could take this libertarian outlook a little further. What about people who are smoking pot by themselves or with some friends in their basement? They aren't hurting anyone but themselves either yet they could be guilty of a felony. Yet another case I guess of "Where do we draw the line?"

    The idea that a dumb 18 year old caught with some pot could be doing hard time with violent criminals seems a little too much to me...but I've always been willing to carry the whole libertarian thing a little too far!

  2. Frank, I understand where you're coming from, but to some extent I disagree. I wrote about this topic at the start of this year's legislative session.

    If nothing else, we (as a society) don't do a good enough job teaching responsible seatbelt use.

  3. I read your post and I agree with it in that we need to do a much better job of having public safety campaigns. However, I do not support laws requiring seat belt use. Establishing that a law has been broken when someone doesn't wear a seat belt causes many more problems than it solves.

  4. Just out curiosity and relating to what jeremy said, what do you think about drug enforcement in the U.S.? And what jeremy also said about libertarianism, or the harm principle, if it's not hurting anyone then you should have a right to do it. Isn't that kind of subjective. YOu could be emotionally harming your friends or family by shooting up heroin couldn't you?

  5. I agree with Jeremy that the 18-year old doing pot shouldn't be taking up the space of hardened criminals in our system. I don't know enough about it, but I think there are mandatory sentencing laws for drugs that get in the way of non-mandatory sentences for much more serious problems.

    I don't think emotional harm constitutes a kind of real harm. Families should counteract such emotional harm they feel with increasing love for the person who is doing it.

  6. If we use the logic that drug use causes emotional harm to people around you then let's outlaw criticism. We should put Simon Cowell in prison for life for all the emotional harm he may have caused contestants on American Idol.

  7. I think Simon is a poor excuse for a human being, so (based on the one time that I watched American Idol, so maybe he's changed, but if not...) we should sentence him to the opprobrium of our mutual ignorance of his buffoonishness.

    In other words, don't watch American Idol. Let's get a show where people can perform and be respected regardless of what we think their talent is.


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