• I’m not sure how this could even be enforceable. Public buses (including school buses) don’t have seat belts for all passengers. Neither do subway cars. And even if they had them, good luck trying to enforce that rule.

    I’ve also often wondered why seat belts are so necessary for cars, yet somehow it’s OK to ride a motorcycle without any belts at all.

  • What depresses me about the USA Today article is it only gives the pro-nanny point of view.

  • School bus safety (link to NHTSA summary)

    Being one of those things that actually has a high risk mitigation factor, I’m somewhat surprised when advocates for less government intervention focus on seat belts. So many other examples exist where regulations are being enforced against the smallest of risks (or have negligible effect), when one that has a positive benefit is brought up it should be highlighted as an appropriate (and actual) cost reducer.

  • Society is better off with seat belt usage. Whether seat belt use is better enforced with punitive laws or simply a rule that says you are responsible for your own injuries if you fail to wear a seat belt is a good debate.

    Unfortunately, the state I live in (and I suspect many other states are the same) makes seat belt use inadmissible in court, even though seat belt use is mandatory, thus rewarding those (and their attorneys) who violate the seat belt law.

  • Cloudesley,
    Seat belts in their current form are a joke. If we were serious about safety, seat belts would be a 5 point restraint system. There were studies that showed in certain types of crashes seat belts could cause more severe injuries than they prevented. Don’t even get me started on air bags.

  • My problem with mandatory seat belt usage is that this is a federal requirement disguised as a state requirement. The feds use my tax money to reward or punish states for requiring or not requiring seat belts.

  • Jim Collins:

    I don’t find it hard to believe that, in some accidents, a belt could do more damage than good. I also do not find it difficult to believe that a particular type of belt design might be better, though I confess perfect ignorance on both topics. But unless the studies show that, in more cases than not, one would be better off without belts, I don’t think the former point is perusasive. Likewise, unless the current belt design does more harm than good on average, the fact that a better belt design exists also does not seem very persuasive.

  • I had a good friend who had a sick sense of humor. It also happened he was an automotive accident investigator. His job was to investigate accidents on behalf of the manufacturer to see if there was a failure in the car. He took a lot of photos and kept some in an album. Whenever someone talked about how their friend of a friend survived an accident because he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, he’d pull out this album and show the person photos of what generally happens when you don’t wear your seatbelt. I won’t go into graphic detail, but I doubt many here would argue against using your seatbelt. A 4 or 5 point harness is much better than what comes in a car, but it’s also more complex.

    About airbags, I questioned them as well, but spoke to several first response firefighters and asked their opinion on airbags. The overwhelming majority wanted airbags in the vehicles their loved ones drove. Did they occasionaly see an airbag go wrong? Yes. Are there certain accidents where not wearing your seatbelt could save your life? Yes. But I prefer playing the good odds. I always have my seatbelt on and welcome the airbags in my car.

  • For Leafs.

    You are right about seat belts. I remember an accident where a little old lady in the back seat hit the back of the front seat and broke something. Old people with broken bones are a pain in the butt to themselves and others. The other problem with unrestrained backseat passengers is that their heads can be cannon balls.

    I saw statistics whereby airbags were credited with saving 2,000 lives over a ten year period, when 400,000 deaths occurred. The 2,00 had to be reduced to 1600 to account four 400 decapitated persons. The cost per life saved was astronomical. The modern seat belt and passenger cage engineering are really great. The marginal utility of seat belts is nearly zero.

    First responder firefighters are not a good reference as they are human and, as such, have trouble distinguishing between the goal of safety and actual safety. Do I want something designed to save the lives of people in my car? Yes, but only if it actually works. The “but only if it works” is lost to almost everybody.

    The same is true of people involved in screening for breast cancer. The fact that the screenings are intended to save lives overwhelms data that shows screenings to be marginally effective even at advanced ages, and not worth the bother before age 50. That is really hard for people to understand.

  • Leafs, what does the efficacy of safety devices have to do with whether or not the federal government has the right to disperse tax money based on their mandated use?

  • Jack,

    Actually I agree that government shouldn’t have the right to tell you to wear a seatbelt. Usually people argue against this law because they are ignorant about the consequences of failing to wear your seatbelt. The main argument I hear from many critics is that in certain accidents a seat belt won’t save your life, and in fact can kill you. Often the story is more urban legend about a friend of a friend whose failure to wear a seatbelt saved his life. I hear similar arguments that airbags kill more people than they save. But coming back to your argument, in this particular case of seatbelts, there is a lot to be gained for wearing seatbelts, and few rational arguments against, I believe that mandating wearing your seatbelt is not a negative action. What is spent on education and enforcement can be recovered in savings that would otherwise be spent on health care in the form of accident recovery and lost productivity. Maybe I could better respond to your question if you could explain why you feel that mandating a safety device that is very efficient, and seeing its use with tax dollars is something you strongly disagree with?

    William makes good points about the cost effectiveness of airbags, which is getting even worse with all the side and roof airbags installed, but airbag failures are extremely rare. So William, I don’t agree with your comment “but only if it works.” If the failure rate was more than 0.2%, especially on an airbag, you would see a safety recall. I’m pretty comfortable with something that works 99.8% of the time. You may confuse “proper usage” with “works properly” because many deaths and injuries caused by airbags comes back to other conditions that cannot be controlled by the airbag, for example, you didn’t have your seat belt on or you are sitting too close to the steering wheel.