Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Why Seatbelt Laws?

That photo may look familiar to you. It was taken in November 2010. I was driving the grey car on the right. I had looked at the traffic signal and saw that it was a solid green. It had not just turned green, and it was not so stale that it was ready to turn red. I had a green light. I looked to the left and saw a car on the side street stopped for the light. I looked to the right and saw that no one was there. As I entered the intersection, I saw another car start to stick out from behind the car that was stopped. This second car was in the left turn only lane and was moving at a normal driving speed. It was going straight and through the red light. I did not even have time to think of an expletive much less say one. I knew what was going to happen, and it did.

I remember hoping that the car was not too badly damaged, but then I opened my eyes. I was surrounded by airbags. I knew then that this was relatively serious – not the most serious traffic collision in the world, but far from being a fender-bender.

I do not wish harm upon the woman driving the other car, but, to be honest, I don’t give an airborne intercourse whether she was wearing a seatbelt or not. I was not injured because she was not wearing a seatbelt; I was injured because she committed a litany of other offences. I really have no interest in having police go out of their way to catch habitual seatbelt violators.

I believe in seatbelts. I also have a soft spot for air bags, because they had a soft spot for me when I really needed it. I think people should wear seatbelts. However, I do not see government’s infatuation with seatbelt laws. Well, I actually do: a money stream and control of those pesky citizens. Safety has nothing to do with it.

I try and obey the speed limit. In doing so, I have had people pass me on hills, around blind curves, through intersections. It is not unusual for people to be so close behind me that I cannot see either the grill of their car or the top of their windshield. How does government respond to this around here? There is a move to lower city speed limits from 50 KM/H (30 MPH) to 40 KM/H (25 MPH). It is as if they are thinking “If people do 60-70 when the speed limit is 50, maybe we can get them to do 50-60 when the speed limit is 40.” Sometimes when I come home from work, especially on Sundays, I wonder if I accidentally got in the middle of a NASCAR race. The speed limit in Highway 1 is 100 KM/H (60 MPH); I see people doing 120-130 (70-80). Why not just enforce the speed limit as it exists?

Besides the offences I have already mentioned, there are some other things I have seen around here: if traffic is backed up on the freeway, people will turn off the road, drive over the grass divider between the freeway and an exit even when it is a good 100 yards. We once saw a pickup truck drive over a concrete divider to make a left turn into a gas station. Several times, when traffic comes to a standstill right after an interchange, I have seen a number of cars turn around and exit the freeway from the on ramp.

Shortly after me moved here, the local RCMP said that it was going to do an enforcement emphasis against aggressive drivers. After it was done, they proudly announced the results: they issued about 125 citations. Sounds good, but of that 125, 52 of them were for seatbelt violations. That is 41%. As I said before, I am not going to be hurt because someone is not wearing his seatbelt. I can be hurt by someone who is passing on a blind curve just as I am coming around the other way. I wish they would get their priorities straight.

What does the RCMP do? In the Vancouver area, if you are stuck in traffic on a major street, you can almost make book on the fact that RCMP officers will be walking through the traffic jam looking for people who aren’t wearing their seatbelts. You will also see them standing at controlled intersections, looking into cars that are stopped at the lights.

Who is going to protect us from governments that want to protect us from ourselves?


  1. I think the gov't should get its filthy nose out of ALL of our business.

    The fact is that local gov'ts, especially police departments, have run amok. If seat belt fines did not financially benefit the department, if the fines went to an orphanage or a hospital, you wouldn't see many cops writing seat belt tickets.

  2. Pffft, not only was my very cute, almost brand new car a write off, but that was the night we had tickets to see Mark Steyn waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, that we had to forgo. Should have sued that nutcase who hit you for depravation of humour, wit, brilliance and insight. But at least the insurance company refunded the cost of the tickets.

    Scared the life out of me when I saw you and the car. Luckily no lasting damage, Thank you G-d.

    But I'm still pissed about missing Steyn.

  3. Agree with lady red about the seatbelt laws - but with respect to seatbelts themselves, my understanding is that airbags make seatbelts even more important - at the wrong speed, the airbag becomes worse than useless, and you get an exploding charge in your chest. Just sayin'.

    Personally I feel naked without a seatbelt and I can't imagine why people won't use them. But if they don't want to, that's their business, not the government's.

  4. I agree about seat belts. My little encounter sold me on air bags, too (and I recognize that airbags without seat belts is not a good thing). It just seems to me that enforcing laws that help preclude accidents is a much more productive use of police manpower than assuming people will be in accidents and are only trying to mitigate the results. I am also greatly concerned, as I have said many times, that seatbelt laws give people an excuse to stop people when no other reason exists.

  5. Gosh, I remember when you had that accident and had to cancel on Steyn. It sounded bad but seeing the picture really makes one realize how fortunate you were to not have been badly hurt.

    I feel the same as all, I believe people should use them or not, as they prefer. Ditto motorcycle helmets. I personally would also feel naked without the seatbelt.