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To Wear or Not Wear a Seatbelt

By Frank Parlato

Don't pepper spray you, don't pepper spray me, pepper spray the founding father behind the tree.

The impertinence of this ad - with its wise guy cop- where government presumes to treat its citizens like they are infants is astounding. In a free country, the idiot who designed this ad would be reprimanded and reminded who pays his salary. Who dares to talk to Americans like this?

It began, ironically, in 1984 -- as readers of George Orwell might note-- when then-Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole promised to rescind the rule that required automakers to install air bags by 1990 if states representing two-thirds of the U.S. population passed seat-belt laws by April 1, 1989.

Automakers - who opposed airbags because of the expense to install them - began to spend millions through their lobbyists Traffic Safety Now to lobby for seat-belt laws, and state legislatures went along.  The quest for passage of seat-belt laws, under the banner of reducing highway fatalities, was really to avoid installation of air bags. 

A few years later, the government mandated installation of air bags anyway.

While seat-belt use helps keep people safe in certain kinds of accidents, like a driver who rear ends a car or hits a tree head on, there is evidence that some have been killed because they used seat belts, as in cases where drivers or passengers were burned or drowned, or killed by oncoming traffic, when they can’t unbuckle.

Some have been subject to fines for not dying when they did not use their seatbelt.

One study of 18 countries showed there was either no change or actually an increase in road accident deaths after mandating of the use of seat belts.

It was theorized that these results may have been affected by the deeply psychological and far beyond the mental capacity of most people who support the nanny state to understand.

Clicking a seatbelt may put a driver in a subconsciously "helpless" state of mind, subliminally preparing for a crash, as he says to himself, "I might get into an accident so I better buckle up."

For those who understand how the human mind works and how it affects our outer world, this will not seem as far fetched as it will to those who think that all that happens to a man is accidental, that everything is beyond his control and that his constant dialogue with his subconscious has no meaning whatsoever.

In short, strength, will and boldness count for nothing.

The nanny state alone can protect us.

But the man that doesn't wear a seatbelt may be signaling to himself he is in control and that he will drive safely.

Aside from this, it is provably true that wearing seatbelts is not always safer.

In Crater Lake National Forest, a convertible Ford Mustang went off a corner too fast, overturned in mid air and landed  upside down on a rock. Four people were in the car, the two in the back were ejected and survived, with minor injuries, but the two in the front were dead because seat belts held them in position for the rock they landed on.

Closer to actual personal experience, when I was quite a young man, I escaped death from a vehicle because I was not wearing a seatbelt. I was thrown from the driver side to the floor of the passenger side uninjured as my vehicle was struck on the passenger side.  Had I been buckled up, I would have been crumbled up.

In 1984, the nanny state known as New York became the first state to pass a law requiring automobile occupants to wear seatbelts. Today, all states except New Hampshire - whose motto is "Live Free or Die" - have some sort of mandatory seatbelt laws for adult Americans.

In l966, Congress established the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) which doles out seatbelt grant money to police, highway and public health departments. Over the years the government has spent billions to force Americans to wear seatbelts.

Their ad campaigns went from trying to be persuasive to being positively insulting.

The one I like the best for pure governmental hubris and treating Americans like infants is, "No whining. No excuses. If you don't buckle up, you will get a ticket."

Do Americans whine to their government? Is there another man in the house who would dare to say, "I'm an adult and I will make my own personal safety decisions!"?

The seatbelt law helps local police departments receive federal funds, paid for, of course, by hard working taxpayers, and towns get ticket revenue from the backs of hard working Americans who choose to make their own safety decisions. 

Seatbelt laws have increased police surveillance of the local population, with police peering into our cars not to ensure other people's safety, but to make sure people are making themselves safe in the way government wants us to.

Of course, many Americans wear seatbelts because they want to and that is right and many, many others are willing to be told what to do by the government.

That too is ok.

But let us make a stand for liberty also.

I choose to wear or not wear a seat belt exactly as I decide on any given day without regard to any government plan to be my nanny. This is based on my life experiences, the knowledge that government does not know better than I about what I should do about my own personal safety, and the fact that I am a man and not a child.

In this I think Thoreau is right, "Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves."

Seat belt laws represent to me the Police State.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

May 28, 2013