The North Dakota Legislature Should Eliminate Seat-Belt Laws

(Photo courtesy of Flickr.)

Do I wear my seat-belt? Yes. And it’s interesting… I don’t need the state to tell me to do so. I’m perfectly capable of making that decision on my own. I know that may be difficult for some to accept. It seems this is especially true when it comes to a majority of legislators and – dare I say it – law enforcement. Furthermore, while I think you should wear yours, I don’t feel that I have the right to mandate that you do. So, why should government be tasked with something we don’t have a right to mandate ourselves?

An article in The Forum yesterday reminded me of how ridiculous I think seat belt laws are. According to the report:

“North Dakota law enforcement agencies issued 3,134 citations during a six-week ‘Click-it or Ticket’ campaign that ended in mid-August, the state Department of Transportation announced…”

I’m admittedly a skeptic. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise to others when I can’t help but wonder if the Click-it or Ticket campaign is as much about saving lives as it is about money. I’m not even necessarily just talking about the tickets themselves. Some will argue in the big scheme of things that, “North Dakota’s penalties aren’t harsh enough!” I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard statements like that. But beyond this, the state gets money from the Feds for these types of things. If you don’t believe me, take a look at this statement from the concluding paragraph of the aforementioned article:

“Funding for boosted traffic enforcement is provided through federal grant money distributed through the state DOT.”

Kind of seems like bribery. Others might say blackmail.

I get the argument that is so often espoused in defense of the laws— “Seat-belts save lives!” It’s true, they often do. But abstaining from drinking mass quantities of soda and eating junk food do as well. Do we need laws for that too? In fact, just last year statistics showed that obesity killed more people worldwide than car crashes, terror attacks, and Alzheimer’s combined. The U.S. is one of the fattest countries in the world, with nearly 68% of our people being overweight. I know I could sure lose some poundage, but I really don’t think it’s the roll of the government to meddle in that either. After all, you don’t have the right to make me eat healthier, why should the government? But I digress.

Can you believe that out of the 50 states, only one has no seat-belt laws for those 18-years-old and older? That lone holdout is New Hampshire— kudo’s to them. It’s fitting for a state with the motto, “Live Free or Die!”

According to some of the arguments espoused as reason for allowing government to mandate whether we buckle up or not, one would be led to believe that New Hampshire is among the worst in the nation in motor vehicle death rates. Especially when we consider they’re ranked last for seat-belt usage (70.2%). Only it’s not true. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control, the Live Free or Die state is 42nd in “Deaths Due to Motor Vehicle Accidents per 100,000 Population”. Which, by the way, is right between Hawaii and Washington, who have the highest rates of seat-belt usage in the country.

Where does North Dakota rank? Not good— we come in at 13th for Deaths Due to Motor Vehicle Accidents.

About 16 years ago, the Foundation for Economic Education published a great article documenting the history of mandatory seat-belt laws. It was called, “The Fraud of Seat-belt Laws“. It’s a good read. I recommend it. In the concluding paragraphs of that article, its author wrote:

“We don’t need millions of dollars for stricter seat-belt law enforcement. Instead, we need more responsibly educated drivers, safer vehicles, and better roads to prevent traffic accidents.

“Individual freedom is the very foundation of our country. The American people should not accept legislators who pass laws that take liberty away while claiming to do good. History has shown this to be the easy road to power for tyrants.”

I couldn’t agree more.

The trouble with society today is that it seems everyone wants security so bad that they’re willing to force their view of what it takes to be secure upon others. How many laws exist as the result of such a view? Too many. Heck, even our very own Governor Doug Burgum rolled out his new “Vision Zero” initiative earlier this year. While well-intentioned, it’s completely unrealistic. But that’s not even the worst of it. It’s government-led, which also means funded by tax dollars. And even beyond that, our good governor expressed his view that primary enforcement of seat-belt laws is a good idea. And, of course, he says the North Dakota Highway Patrol agrees with him. Surprise.

We don’t need nanny government. What we do need is to once again embrace the ideas of individual Liberty and personal responsibility. The North Dakota Legislature should eliminate mandatory seat-belt laws.



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About T. Arthur Mason 883 Articles
T. Arthur Mason is a native North Dakotan who has spent nearly all of his life in the Peace Garden State. As the third of four children in Western North Dakota, Mason grew to appreciate family and the outdoors. Some of his fondest memories are annual deer hunts with family and friends. In his early teenage years, faith became a central part of T. Arthur Mason's life. He and the majority of his family attend church together on a weekly basis and find this a fulfilling aspect of their lives. Through the influence of his father, T. Arthur Mason became intrigued with politics. As a boy, he attended political events with his father and enjoyed the friendships that resulted as a byproduct of those political associations. As Mason grew older, he became convinced that the quote often attributed to Thomas Jefferson was true, "That government is best which governs least." Today, T. Arthur Mason enjoys time with his wife and children, an occasional hunt, and an increasingly active life on the political scene. This blog is the fulfillment of a dream to design a web site in the realm of politics and to advocate for the principles of Liberty and constitutionally limited government. On behalf of all those that contribute to The Minuteman, we hope you enjoy your time on the site and will share the message with others.