I’m all for safety, especially when it comes to driving and hurting others.
But I’m not so sure about a new law regulating back-seat passengers.
On Monday Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed two new safety laws, one that makes it mandatory for adults sitting in the backseat of a vehicle to wear a seat belt.
(The other one, I get. It makes the ban on using a mobile device while driving a statewide offense. Distracted drivers can hurt others.)
It’s not that I don’t support people making smarter decisions about personal safety. I just think this is a choice that doesn’t affect the safety of others — just the ones making it. (I do, however, fully support children wearing restraints in the backseat. That’s because adults are responsible for their safety.)
Yes, it’s an obvious safety precaution to take. Back-seat passengers not wearing seat belts are three times more likely to get injured or die in accidents, according to the Hawaii Health Department. But it is the government’s job to regulate it? What about everything else we do that could be deemed unsafe? Where does it end?
The odd thing is riding in the back of a pickup truck is still legal — and that seems way more unsafe than sitting in the backseat of a car without wearing restraints.
I don’t mean to dismiss this law as trivial. Safety is never trivial. I just think there are more important things we should be concerned about and deal with — and this seems to be an easy signature on an obviously common-sense proposal that will likely bring in revenue for the state — through fines at checkpoints a la Click It or Ticket campaigns — while there are much more pressing issues out there. Like education, traffic, crime, poverty, homelessness. Or how about fixing the buoys off the islands so researchers can better predict tsunami threats (and big swells)?