Maine state senator Eric Brakey (not pictured) has introduced a bill into the legislature to repeal Maine's mandatory seat belt law. He says people should have the freedom to choose whether they wear a seat belt. Maine state senator Eric Brakey is a damn fool.
Maine just had a big 75-car pileup. The legislature, right after the crash, is now going to debate repealing the state's seat belt law. They should keep the law. Here's what State Senator Idiot Dumbass has to say about the matter:
"I hope that people were wearing their seat belts in that pileup. I believe that seat belts do save lives. But government's job is to protect us from each other, not to protect us from our own personal decisions about our own personal safety."
Now, I disagree with Mr. Brakey that the government shouldn't make any laws about things that people only harm themselves by doing. But putting that aside and only working within the confines of State Senator Gold Encrusted Potato's argument: seat belts protect us not only from ourselves, but also from others.
If a person not wearing their seat belt crashes their car and gets hurt, that person needs to be rushed by ambulance to a hospital, operated on in an emergency room, misses work while recovering, and maybe has long-term medical care needs.
If that person is rich or has good insurance, then maybe all that stuff won't affect the rest of society. But otherwise, that person getting hurt because they weren't wearing their seatbelt, has a very large, ongoing price tag for the state's taxpayers.
In addition, if a person not wearing a seat belt gets hurt in an accident where the other driver was found at fault, the other driver now has that much higher medical expenses they're responsible for. Whereas if the not-at-fault driver were wearing a seat belt, the at-fault driver might not have hurt them at all.
Because of these potential costs to everyone, the government should do whatever it can to ensure as many people as possible wear their seat belts.
Keep the damn seat belt law, State Senator Ow My Balls.
UPDATE: Some of you have questioned the correlation between seat belt laws and people using their seat belts. So here are some numbers.
According to the NHTSA,
While the first seat belts were installed by automobile manufacturers in the 1950s, seat belt use was very low — only 10-15 percent nationwide — until the early 1980s. From 1984 through 1987, belt use increased from 14 percent to 42 percent as a result of the passage of seat belt use laws in 31 states. Then, from 1990 through 1992, belt use increased from 49 percent to 62 percent as a result of a national effort of highly visible enforcement and public education.
States have different kinds of seat belt laws: either primary enforcement, or secondary enforcement. Primary enforcement means a person can be pulled over for not wearing a seat belt. Secondary means a cop can't pull you over for not wearing a seat belt, but can ticket you if you're pulled over for something else.
This graph is from back in 1996. Of the 10 states with the highest seat belt usage rates, 8 of them have primary enforcement seat belt laws. That's a pretty readily apparent correlation.
Here's a graph of seat belt usage increasing over time vs. traffic fatalities decreasing over time, also from the NHTSA.
That's just since 1995! Before then, seat belt usage rates were atrocious.
The facts are quite simple:
1. Seat belts save lives.
2. Seat belt laws lead to higher seat belt usage.
Since saving lives is a fundamentally good thing, and seat belt laws lead to higher life-saving seat belt usage, seat belt laws save lives, and are therefore a fundamentally good thing.
(Drops the mic.)