I've been thinking about this one for a while, and I hope to hash it out in a way that is understandable.
Seat belt laws bug me. Let me explain.
In Ontario, as of December 1, 2006, there was a new law:
Now, in and of itself this law would be fine, I guess. According to statistics, wearing a seat belt increases your chances of surviving a car accident. Another website states that 63% of people killed in car accidents were not wearing seat belts. So, it just seems logical to put your seat belt on when you're on the road - if you've noticed all of our posts under the "road rage" tag, you'll notice that we believe people on the highways are generally idiots. I don't have a website for the statistical average of idiots on the road, but I'm pretty sure it would be above 50%. Just saying. Knowing the high percentage of idiocy on the highways leads me to be more careful.
So, I agree that it's smart to wear a seatbelt.
But here's the part that bugs me. The MTO website goes on to state:
"The penalty for seat belt infractions is a fine between $60 and $500. Convicted offenders will receive two demerit points."
I don't believe it's right for the government to be able to fine me and give me demerit points for my own decision to put my life at risk. If I want to be an idiot and go without wearing my seat belt, who are they to fine me for it?
Warn me? Sure. Frown upon me? Okay! But fine me?
Let's just look at this for a second. I'm going to use another example of personal choices.
I could go buy 200 Twinkies and gorge myself on them. I could do this daily, and there would be no fine. Why? Because it would be my choice - although the world will tell you that obesity is a risk all on its own.
Just pause for a second and look at that number. 400,000 deaths were caused by obesity and physical inactivity. Now look at these statistics, from the same year (2000):
So that's just a little over a tenth, and don't forget that only 63% of those deaths relating to car accidents were because the people were not wearing seat belts. Someone else can do the math for that.
What this boils down to is an infringement on my rights. If I have a right to be obese if I want to, and to be physically inactive if I want to, I should have a right to go without a seat belt if I want to.
The government has every right to fine me if I'm speeding, or driving erratically. This sort of thing puts other people in danger. But to fine me for a personal choice, a choice which leaves only me and me alone in any sort of danger, is ridiculous.
Now, don't forget to buckle up. ;p