Letter to the Editor

Stricter seat-belt laws aren't needed

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

To the editor:

Do the police really need another excuse to pull over and harass Missouri drivers? The latest statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration state that seat-belt usage has increased from 55 percent in 1994 to 88 percent in 2008. In primary usage states like Missouri, seat belt usage rates are 89 percent. On high-traffic urban area expressways, seat-belt usage is over 90 percent. So at worst 11 percent of Missouri drivers are not buckling up.

It seems to me that the current seat-belt usage laws and campaigns are working. The overwhelming majority of drivers are reasonable and will wear their seat belts without draconian enforcement laws because we realize that doing so increases our chances of survival in the event of an accident in most cases.

Compare the success rate of the government's promotion of seat-belt benefits against its tobacco war that has been waged since 1966 with the surgeon general's mandatory warning on all cigarette packs. Despite that and relentless ad campaigns, school indoctrination, the enforcement of high taxes, discriminatory state usage laws and the norm of the smoker being perceived as a social pariah, 25 percent of American adults continue to use tobacco.

The Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety's unnecessary pursuit of even stricter laws against another in an endless series of victimless crimes will only result in broader police powers at the further expense of individual freedom.