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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Click it or Ticket? Stick it!

Who wouldn't want to be safe? How can anyone be against "public safety"? In the land of the Minnesota nanny state we need not worry as the government will always be there to take care of us.

On a state-wide level we are in the midst of a yearly revenue grab by all levels of government known as the "Click it or Ticket" program. The program, in simple terms, turns our police officers into Revenue Rangers through the shaking down of motorists for not using seat belts while crassly selling the program to the public as one of "public safety". The police have a tough enough job as it is and generally do a fine job of enforcing the law (although the seat belt law is a prime example of the nanny state sticking its large nose where it doesn't belong), but let's face it -- this is first and foremost about the money.

While wearing a seat belt is just common sense, it seems counter productive for the government to spend taxpayer money on television and radio commercials that depict law enforcement officers gleefully having to find more ticket pads to stick some poor schlub with a hefty fine for the heinous crime of not wearing a seat belt. How does filling government coffers with ticket revenue make society safer?

Statistically, one of the most dangerous aspects of a police officer's job is to deal with a pulled-over motorist with his or her back to traffic. How wise is it to put our police officers at risk for the primary purpose of raising revenue? While an officer is busy rousting a soccer mom in a minivan for forgetting to buckle up, how many drunk drivers, vehicles with unsecured loads, uninsured illegal aliens, etc. will drive right by while the officer's attention is on the ticket? At a time when governments are cutting back on law enforcement funding (often to fund wasteful, but politically correct, programs) this program does not seem to be a good use of law enforcement resources. Besides burdening the police with revenue collection duty, these "public safety" shake downs also don't do much for public relations for law enforcement.

Governments at all levels take in more than enough money to fund their legitimate functions without having to resort to using law enforcement and the public safety infrastructure as a supplemental revenue source. Revenue shortfalls. and the subsequent usurpation of even more taxpayer money, occur because far too many people look to the government to provide all of their needs and to remove all risk and bad things from life. Unfortunately government and politicians are all too willing to answer the call. We need to make it clear to our elected representatives that we do not want or need them to regulate every aspect of our lives or to misuse law enforcement as a revenue collection tool.


Blogger G-man said...

As a conservative, I must acknowledge that I support the seat belt law in Minnesota. But, not for the reasons purported by the legislature. We live in a free society and if you want to do stupid things that risk life and limb (such as not wearing a seat belt) you should be free to do so – as long as you don't impose additional risk to those around you.

It is incumbent upon the driver to maintain control of the vehicle. Seat belts help the driver to do so.

Try driving a safety obstacle course where you must swerve at high speed to avoid a cardboard pedestrian. You will learn that it is far easier to maintain control while wearing a seat belt. If the belt keeps you in your seat, your hands and feet are free to operate the controls. Without the belt, you'll be hanging on to the wheel rather than steering it.

Now add a large adult male in the passenger seat without his belt on and drive the course again. When you swerve right, the passenger may end up in your lap. He will panic and start reaching for anything he can – including your steering wheel.

Many years ago I had a similar experience, only it was on a public highway. (The obstacle was not a pedestrian.) Fortunately, my belt was on and I was able to keep my passenger -- and his flailing arms -- away from wheel. We avoided an accident and learned a lesson that day.

Unfortunately, statistics on avoided accidents are hard to find. But, based on my experience and the testimony of professional drivers, seat belts do help you maintain control of your vehicle. Drivers who don't buckle-up are hazards on the road and risk life and limb of those around them.

5/25/2006 8:13 PM  

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