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)?
As long as uninsured, un-seat-belted passengers are racking up higher hospital bills and consuming more taxpayer dollars for more serious injuries after a crash, I support this act of government. I feel the same about mandatory helmets for bikers and motorcyclists. I’m all for personal freedom, but when one’s actions become burdensome to others, I think the government can and should step in to help regulate our behavior.
Is it that hard to buckle up? Is one oppressed for being “forced” to do so? Do the potential benefits outweigh the costs — for both the individual and the community? I think so, and I think this legislation is necessary. It’s too bad we need it, though.
CAT: Yeah, there are more pressing issues. When it comes to traffic, I think moped and bike riders are perhaps the most flagrant in not following the rules of the road. They weave in and out, ride on sidewalks, do not make signals, no lights or reflectors, ride their vehicle in crosswalks, etc. I wish every vehicle had a sign/sticker to show that it is insured. At least that way I can stay at least 3 cars away from those that don’t have one. Say, is there a law that says that signals for turns or lane changing are required?
I’m for total ban for riding in the back of a truck. The truck bed is designed to carry cargo not people. I own a truck and no one is allowed to ride in the bed of my truck. As for your passengers to wear seat belt in the back seat, who gets the ticket? The driver? If that is true then I don’t agree with that. If you are 18 or under, yes, the driver get the ticket but older than 18 the passenger get the ticket. They are adults and should be responsible for their actions not the driver.
Good Morning Cat,
When the state started the seat belt law, it took awhile for me to develop the muscle memory, but now it seems weird that if I’m not strapped in my seat. Might be like that with this new law.
btw, not a big fan or the wacky royals, but the accident that claimed Princess Diana would not have necessarily been fatal if she was buckled in the back seat. If I remember correctly, her injuries were consistent with being tossed against the back of the front seats. If you consider the speed involved & multiple impacts, being immobilized in her seat couldn’t have done any harm.
I’m all for the law. There will always be “more pressing issues,” but tackling an easy issue like this one doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with getting to the bigger issues; they’re not mutually exclusive. And since this is an easy, common sense law, why not? Also, I think requiring back seat passengers to wear seat belts isn’t just a safety issue for those passengers, but for the front seat passengers as well. Because in an accident, an un-belted back seat passenger will fly forward and hit the person sitting in the front. So for me, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. And yes, I think sitting in the back of a pick-up is much more dangerous (although really fun when I was a kid :)).
Hey Cat: … let’s see … most of us would not dare to get on any roller coaster or amusement park ride without a harness, strap or bar for safety and protection… yet, we argue about whether we should or not not be told to use our seatbelts … when riding in that daily amusement ride that we call our personal vehicle … hmmm??? …
… yeah, there might be more important issues to tackle … but we can’t ignore the little ones, either …
… if the government tells me to wear a seatbelt … no biggie … I’ll click-it …
… if the government tells me to pay more taxes … uhhh, then we have a problem!!! …
Riding with seat belt buckled in the back seat required but OK to ride open air in a truck bed is indeed odd. Several years back I witnessed a truck wreck on H3 headed toward Pearl just past the tunnel. The person in the truck bed landed on the barrier and was sliding on top of it. They were spinning. I was praying the person would fall on the freeway because it was a long drop into the forest below. It was a miracle she landed on the pavement… she bounced several times… twisting like a pretzel. I was in the car behind the wreck and witnessed all the horror. The pickup rolled twice, the guy and girl in the pickup were OK but the truck was completely destroyed. I saw them in court a couple of months later and they were all good as new. It could have been three dead bodies so easy.
The seat belts saved the two in the cab, the lady in the back was just plain lucky and she knew it. I pray that never happens to anyone else. So how do you protect those riding in the back?
Any unbelted riders may, and probably will, become large projectiles hazardous to all others within the vehicle in the event of a collision, not necessarily only at high speeds.
The preventable nature of these injuries to, and possibly death of, others in the vehicle make this a public health issue.
The only inconvenience is to those trying to pack more people into their passenger vehicles than they have seatbelts, a number that they aren’t designed to carry safely.
the things we did as children seem…idiotic now. riding in the back of a pickup was a normal way to get the whole baseball team from one end of the island to the other with a minimum of vehicles. now, as a driver, i go so far as to keep my distance from a truck with passengers in the back. not because i’m afraid of running over a passenger that gets bounced out but because the presence of the passenger makes me question the sanity and decision making abilities of the driver. no telling what a driver with bad judgement will do so i may as well remove myself from his/her sphere of influence altogether.
as for the backseat seatbelt thing…i’m rarely in the backseat anyway and, when I am, I usually buckle up out of habit. I don’t think this is government intrusion any more than front seat buckling is, so no skin off my back.
The driver of the car in the photo would still get a ticket here in Kalifornia because children of that size/weight need to be sitting on a booster seat! Some laws make sense, but many others are nanny state measures.
What’s really weird is that I rarely ride in the back seat because I’m usually driving. However, when I do ride in the back for some reason it’s an automatic thing for me to buckle up. It feels weird if I don’t have the seatbelt on.