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Buckle Up
Jack Miller

How would you feel if you learned the government enacted a law for your safety that only applied part time? In other words, the government would impose this law during times it benefited them either financially or logistically. The state and federal government do not really care about your personal safety. Otherwise, this law would be in effect across the board with no exceptions.
The federal and state governments have a very bad habit of infringing on personal freedoms. In fact, government entities are attempting to assume the role of parent. They want to “raise” us according to their rules. This makes one wonder why God gave humans a brain and the ability to reason. I certainly do not appreciate some faceless entity dictating my personal welfare.
Although I realize seatbelt legislation is an old subject, it is one of my pet peeves. I remember our 1961 Ford Fairlane, three on the tree, six cylinders, off-white with a brown and tan interior. We thought it was the prettiest thing we had ever seen. It had everything: vent windows for plenty of "fresh" air-conditioning, comfortable bench seats instead of confining bucket seats, an AM radio, and a real spare tire. We thought the car had everything anyone would need until my mother started reading about a revolutionary option called the seat belt.
Mom made us buckle up to go around the corner as well as to go across the country. I thought I would go mad having to sit confined to one spot. Today my entire family buckles up every time we enter a vehicle with no questions asked. We do it because it is the smart thing to do, not because it is the law.
In the State of Alabama, if I am caught driving my kids around in either our van or our truck and they are not wearing their seat belts, I will receive a fine. However, if I drive them around in my 1951 Willys jeep without buckling up that's okay because it was not originally equipped with seat belts. Also, I am perfectly within my rights to put them on the school bus each morning and send them to school in a vehicle that the State does not require to have seat belts. My oldest child, age 9, has been in 3 accidents in the five years she has been riding the bus. There is no equity in this situation. If I can be fined for not buckling my children in the car, then the state should be fined for violating the same law every time a kid gets on a school bus. As I have previously stated my oldest daughter has already been in more wrecks on the school bus than while in any of our family vehicles. This situation raises the question of why individuals are held accountable for the violation of this law, but not local and federal government?
Please make no mistake. I think seatbelts are a great idea. The recent tragedy concerning Derrick Thomas is proof enough that seatbelts do save lives. Thomas and two of his friends were involved in a tragic auto accident earlier this year. Thomas and one of his passengers were not wearing seatbelts and died as a result of the accident. The one passenger who was wearing a seatbelt walked away from the accident with a few minor injuries. My beef is not about the validity of wearing a seat belt, but rather about whose choice it is to wear one.
The Federal and State governments continue to preach that wearing a seat belt will reduce injuries, which in turn will reduce medical and legal claims. This reduced level of claims, in the long run, will reduce automotive, medical, and life insurance premiums. Have you ever stopped and asked yourself when any of those insurance premiums you pay have been reduced? They have not, and are not likely to in the future. If you are going to wear seat belts, do it because it is the right thing to do to protect yourself and your family, not because it is required by the government. Seat belt legislation is bad for the simple reason is infringes on your personal freedom.
The night we had a big wreck in our 1961 Ford, I was asleep on the back seat instead of sitting up. As you may have surmised, I was not wearing my seat belt nor was anyone else in the car. Dad never did, and still does not, except when he is shamed into it by his grandchildren. Dad skinned his knuckles, mom bruised her elbow, and I took the brunt of the impact. I awoke the next morning with a bloody and bruised eye. The drunk that ran into us got off with a small fine. Probably the only injury that would have been avoided if seat belts were worn that night would have been mine. We were stupid, but lucky.
The federal government was not set up nor intended to be our baby-sitter. We do not need our states dictating our individual freedoms. Yes, my dad should do the smart thing and wear his seat belt. My mother, God rest her soul, should not have smoked. We are adults and should be allowed to have a choice as long as that choice does not hurt someone else.


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