“Click It Or Ticket”- The Truth Behind The Law

David Gubbrud M.D.

A Humbling Experience

Dave Gubbrud plopped down in the front seat of his Envoy and slid the pizza onto the passenger side. It had been a very long day, and Dave couldn’t wait to get to his home four blocks away from the Pizza Hut. He took off on his way and turned onto Grand Avenue, a fairly busy street within his St.Paul neighborhood. Right as he neared his house, sirens erupted behind him. He frowned as he was pulled over by a St.Paul Trooper. As she came to his window, Dave asked, “What are you pulling me over for?” The policewoman told him that he wasn’t wearing his seatbelt. Dave was furious. He was only two blocks from his house, he was hungry and tired, and he just wanted to get home. The Minnesota government had only recently passed the Seatbelt Law. Dave was ticketed after arguing for some time, and he came home in a rage. He was upset about the law. He spent the night eating pizza aggressively.

Fairview Riverside Hospital

About a week later, Dave was working at the Emergency Room at Fairview-Riverside Hospital, where he served as an emergency doctor. The paramedics suddenly burst through the door with a man on a stretcher. His body had been mangled. It turned out that the man had been driving down the freeway without a seatbelt and had spun out on the ice. He had collided with a construction vehicle and was ejected out of his car and into construction supplies. He had perished on the ride to the hospital. He had a fiancé riding with him who, luckily, was wearing her seatbelt. She suffered from a broken arm, but she suffered much worse from the news about her future husband. After the incident, Dave realized that maybe the policewoman was right for enforcing the seatbelt law. It could have saved his life.

The truth about the seatbelt law is that even though people disagree with its restriction on personal freedom, it is helpful and required. The seatbelt law is required because it would decrease the severities of crash-related injuries, would save the government and the individual money, and most importantly, force people to wear seatbelts when driving. However important this law is, it is only a secondary law in a number of states, and it needs to be a primary concern.

Safety First

To begin with, the seatbelt law should be required in all states because it effectively decreases the severity of crash-related injuries. The National Organization of Youth Safety (NOYS) states, “Research has shown that lap/shoulder seat belts, when used, reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45% and the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50%.” Those are some colossal numbers in terms of safety.

Another incredible thing that seatbelts do is that they make being ejected from a vehicle 30 times less likely than when not wearing a seatbelt. To add, 75% of people who are ejected die. That is not a friendly percentage if you are being ejected from your car. To continue, observe the graph on the left. You will notice that as seatbelt use increases, the level of fatality decreases. The proof is on paper that the seatbelt law should be required, in order to keep citizens safe.

Fatality Rate of Drivers With and Without Seatbelts

Preventing Injuries To The Pockets

Secondly, the seatbelt law should be required because it would save boatloads of money. It has already been established that not wearing seatbelts increase chance of injury greatly, and maybe people would risk a small amount of personal freedom for greater probability of critical injuries. The problem, however, is that injuries must be treated with expensive medical supplies and care. This in turn drains money from the pockets of the government, insurance companies, and also you, a citizen of the United States. Nobody wants to lose money. The solution to saving all this currency is to make the seatbelt law a primary law, and force people to wear seatbelts, which in turn prevents injuries, which then prevents the use of expensive medical supplies, which then prevents the spending of money. It’s like a chain reaction of beneficial effects, so buckle up next time you leave the house.

Click It

Thirdly, another reason that seatbelt laws should be primary laws is that people will actually wear them. The American College of Emergency Physicians says, “Safety belt use is significantly higher in states with primary enforcement laws compared to those with secondary enforcement laws.” Also, the web page owned by the NYOS states, “The vast majority of the public (95%) agrees that they would want to have their seatbelt on if they got in an accident. However, about one-half (47%) of the public states that the consistently wear a seatbelt.” This is shocking. How can so many people admit that they would want to wear their seatbelt in a crash, and then about half as many actually wear them? It is because there are still 18 states that haven’t passed a seatbelt law as a primary law. Above are the states that hold out against the principle of national safety. The seatbelt law should be a primary law in these states in order to make people wear them and get their benefits.

Or Ticket?

“But Seat Belts Restrict My Freedom!”

Finally, the most common argument against the passing of seatbelt laws is that it restricts personal freedom. After all, this is America, the land of freedom and rights for all people. The thing is, there are still some laws in our country that take away rights in order to protect the people. Nobody argues with DUI laws or airport security laws after seeing the damage that they can do when not enforced, and yet these laws take away certain aspects of personal freedom. The seatbelt law is no different. People need to become aware of the damage that not wearing a seatbelt can do, and realize that a seatbelt law needs to be established as a primary law in all states.

You Decide

To conclude, a seatbelt law must be passed as a primary law in all states, in order to minimize injury, fatality, debt, and also to actually make people wear them and reap the benefits. As American citizens it is our choice to pass this law. Do you want to sacrifice a couple extra inches of movement space in exchange for massive reduction of injury severity? You already know the correct answer. Make it happen.

Works Cited

“ACEP: American College of Emergency Physicians.” Travel and Motor Vehicle Safety. ACEP, 2015. Web. 25 Mar. 2015.

“Seat Belt Statistics.” Global RSS. NYOS, 2015. Web. 12 Mar. 2015

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