Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Seat Belts: Arizona on this point I agree with you...




It's come around again.  There was a tragic accident this past weekend on a stretch of Arizona highways and 5 of the 9 passengers in a Chevrolet Tahoe lost their lives.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety reports that it's likely the 5 occupants who were ejected from the vehicle after it rolled over from a blown tire would likely have survived had they been wearing seat belts.

There's no arguing that seat belts are the most effective personal automotive safety feature second only to the recent addition of vehicle airbags.

But it's still a choice to use them.

Back in the late 80's many automotive manufacturers tried to mandate their use by introducing automatic systems.  Ultimately, however, their poor performance and unreliability made them the butt of jokes until the widespread use of SRS Airbag systems.

Which brings us to today's automotive safety technology which includes everything from airbags, to automatic braking, lane change warnings and backup cameras.  In that mix is still the good ol' seat belt and it's still an active choice to use it.

In my view that's a good thing.  

Remember when I mentioned those goofy automatic systems from the 80's?  There's a reason they're gone.  They were unreliable and cumbersome which left most of them unused, bypassed or disabled.  If the single most effective automotive safety device becomes some comical Rube Goldberg machination then it's failed its primary function.


So no, I have no beef with seat belts.  In fact they may well have saved my life when I was involved in my own major accident.  By strange coincidence, the night that accident happened was the first time I had used them even though I'd been driving for a few years.  

But...

I use them by choice and strongly believe that's the way it should be.

You see, I have a problem with AAA's "nanny state" position on seat belts that seeks to change Arizona state law.  Right now seat belt use is not a "primary" offense like speeding or DUI.  Instead it's considered a "secondary" offense only leveled in addition to some other driving infraction.

I'm a firm believer in individual rights and as such believe that anyone who chooses to raise their chances of a fatality by not using seat belts should have the right to make that decision.



Yes, it's a stupid choice but with all its faults, Arizona and its laws in particular tend to bias against infringing on personal choice unless there's some inherent political benefit.  

Luckily, seat belts aren't the hot potato issue of say Planned Parenthood so it's unlikely that the Arizona state legislature will change seat belt laws anytime soon.

Still, it seems that the AAA continues to push the issue with new campaigns to change seat belt laws every year bolstered by some high profile tragedy that feeds their cause.

My problem with changing seat belt laws in this state is that Arizona tends to go overboard when putting the "nanny state" into action.

That's because nothing changes in Arizona unless there's the potential for a new revenue stream.  It's why we had such fiascos as freeway speed cameras which did nothing for safety but filled the state's coffers.  The minute they stopped earning their keep, they were gone.

So much for the safety argument...

Speeding is one thing but do we really need patrol officers spending their day watching for seat belt "offenders?"  How could anyone take such a personal mandate as anything but another potential revenue stream?

Too many liberties have become casualties in the cause of supposed safety.  It may sound ridiculous but we should have the right to be stupid if we want to be, especially if we're not putting anyone else in danger.

Safety is a personal responsibility.  The use of a seat belt has no effect on anyone but the individual making the decision to use it.  I challenge the AAA to prove otherwise.

Of course I already know what the AAA would say and I flatly reject the "monkey see monkey do" arguments about parenting and role models.  

On this point I call it a fallacy.  In fact in my own case, my parents never did and still won't wear seat belts but I choose to.  

There really isn't any valid, competent argument for such measures save for the increased revenue stream from the "tax" of compliance.  

Unfortunately for the AAA, that doesn't make as good a  sound bite as distracted driving or DUI.

Stay strong on this Arizona, we've had enough of being "protected" from ourselves.