Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Seat Belt Laws Are Nothing but for Our Safety - I. Introduction - We all cling to life. If not, you will not be here but somewhere else planning your own death. I see the same purpose for seat belt laws. It helps us in our feat to stay safe and alive. Indeed there are those among us who do not want to be alive but we have to admit that their percentage is relatively very little.
II. Why Should We Be Governed By Such Laws?
The National Safety Council estimates that the expected reduction in occupant death rates due to usage of lap seat belts would be 7.0 to 8.5 percent (Peltzman, 1975) In addition, Campbell and Campbell (1988) estimate that fatalities in the twenty-five states with seat belt laws were 6.6 percent lower than forecast for these states. “This improvement amounts to approximately 1,300 lives saved.” (Singh, and Thayer 649) Thus, no matter how many times Holdorf (2006) repeats that the law’s sole and "real purpose was to avoid installation of air bags", the implementation of seat belt laws have excellent purpose of saving lives if properly adhered to.
III. Advantages of Having Seat Belt Laws Imposed Upon Us
Why should the seat belt law be passed if it does not benefit the public in general? If we reduce our political biases, and start thinking that seat belts are for own safety, and the laws imposed upon us on having these seat belts on are in fact for our own benefit, what do we lose? Why is it that we have to always look at the lateral motives of this law when the result it can give us motorists and drivers are so clear? McEwin (1986) estimates on the basis of his empirical model that a 100 percent usage of seat belts would reduce fatalities by forty percent (40%). Isn’t that a great advantage?
Furthermore, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study found that in buses, students who were harnessed by a combination lap-and-shoulder system seemed to work best in the crash tests. “Lap and shoulder belts keep the crash dummies secure in the new seat, which prevents impact with the seat in front of them." ("Seat Belts Eyed for" A02)
Those who discourage the seat belt law have their own reasons. As previously mentioned, seat belt is considered as a hindrance against air bags usage, which is also a very good safety device. Additionally, psychological factors are an important consideration. Some drivers may drive recklessly knowing that they have their seat belts on and as a result they feel safer even if they drive faster and with lesser care. Ramachandran (36) noted that "improved automobile safety allows greater speed and driving under what were formerly hazardous road conditions."
“Certain circumstances the law may undermine the very behaviors it seeks to encourage, by replacing internal justifications for compliance with external motivations for obedience. When this is the case, legal enforcement may do more harm than good. At the very least, enforcement may have a hidden price: individuals may begin to engage in desired behavior more to avoid punishment, and less for its own sake.” (Fleisig-Greene 2007) It is sad that humans think this way but all the same, if we are all forced to have our seat belts on, it is for our own safety, even if we think it is imposed upon us in the form of law. That is why it has to be a “law” so that we are punished if we disobey. The law is our guidance, just like a parent to a child. The parent punishes the child for misdeeds not because he/she has to impose something to the child but because it is for the latter’s good and because the parent loves the child. This is a parallel situation for seat belt laws: they are there for our own good.
Campbell, B., and E Campbell. "Injury Reduction and Belt Use Associated with Occupant Restraint Laws," in Preventing Automobile Injury: New Findings from Evaluation Research, edited by J. Graham. Dover, Massachusetts: Auburn House Publishing Company, 1988 , 24-50.
Fleisig-Greene, Eric. "Law's War with Conscience: the Psychological Limits of Enforcement." Brigham Young University Law Review 2007.5 (2007): 1203+.
Holdorf, William J. "The Fraud of Seat-belt Laws." Ideas on Liberty Sept. 2002: 36+.
McEwin, R. No Fault and Motor Vehicle Accidents, Working Paper D105, Center for Policy Studies, Monash University, September, 1986, 1-30.
Peltzman, Sam. "The Effect of Automobile Safety Regulations." Journal of Political Economy, August 1975 , 677-726.
Ramachandran, V. S., ed. Encyclopedia of Human Behavior. Vol. 4. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 1994.
"Seat Belts Eyed for School Bus; NHTSA Weighs New Safety Rules." The Washington Times 16 July 2007: A02
Singh, Harinder, and Mark Thayer. "Impact of Seat Belt Use on Driving Behavior." Economic Inquiry 30.4 (1992): 649-658.