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Why is NOT wearing a seat belt illegal?

OK, I don't get it. The esteemed legislature of Arkansas decided a while back that if you don't wear a seat belt when operating a vehicle on Arkansas roads you will be fined. I am OK with child restraint laws and seat belts for children because children don't have a choice and children do need protection from lazy or stupid parents, but me, traveling alone or with other adults, we should have a FREEDOM to choose. Of course the law was passed under the premise of "public safety". Baloney! How is it that the public is endangered in any way by the fact I don't wear a seat belt? If I had a passenger and I did not make a seat belt available to said passenger, they may have a point.

The next argument is, "It is for your own good.". Again, BALONEY! There a lot of things that I may or may not do, and legal I might add, that are just as great a danger to my well being as not wearing a seat belt. Please explain to me how I could climb on a motorcycle and ride as long as I like without a helmet. How is it more dangerous for me to not wear a seat belt?   It is not even illegal for me to NOT provide a passenger with a helmet, even if the passenger would prefer to wear one!

What really irritates me is that at first the law was passively enforced. In other words, you would only be cited for a seat belt infraction if you were to be stopped for some other reason. Now, however, we spend untold thousands of dollars, hiring, training, and equipping our State Police and now send them out on "seat belt enforcement duty" for the sole purpose of looking for and citing drivers for not wearing their seat belt. I thought we employed the State Police to enforce traffic laws, (you know, the ones that when broken actually do endanger the pubic), and investigate crime. So why are we making the State Police spend their precious time and our precious resources looking for people committing the heinous crime of not wearing a seat belt. What a waste and what an infringement on personal freedom! Where is the ACLU when you need them?

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Comment by Kenneth Ray on April 1, 2011 at 10:31pm
When you end up in an accident and your insurance fails to be able to cover the full amount of the bills due to policy limits the government is forced to step in and pay your bills for you because you are an involent and a ward to the state. In the long run seat belts not only save lives but they save taxpayer dollars as well. This is coming from a non seat belt wearer also so ignore that last bit Kevin and Bobby!
Comment by dan berry on April 1, 2011 at 5:08pm

No one is disputing that seatbelts save lives. I question the veracity of how many lives were saved by seatbelts in a year. That's a guess at best.


Seatbelt infractions as a primary, stoppable offense are simply an assault on the fourth amendment.

Comment by Tom Farrow on April 1, 2011 at 1:56pm
Again, I do not disagree that wearing a seat belt could be a factor in the report you cite. So could safer roads, (more divided highways), safer cars,(air bags), etc. Nothing wrong with requiring auto makers to provide seat belts, it in the interest of PUBLIC safety. Forcing me to wear it is a whole other matter altogether.
Comment by Kenneth Ray on April 1, 2011 at 1:46pm
I just read a report on CNN that stated fatalities are the lowest they have been since 1949. Could this be due to laws like this...I think so! And thanks Kevin I think some people would be really surprised on other citations as well. So much for the age old quota crap to make more money!
Comment by Tom Farrow on April 1, 2011 at 1:10pm


You may be correct if cited by a city police officer.  If cited by the Highway Patrol, the fine is $25.  I know, I got two citations a week apart by Highway Patrol officers on "seat belt enforcement duty".  I was courteous and paid my fines but I was only half as upset as I would have been if it had been $50.

To your earlier comment, putting a number on "seat belts saving lives" is a subjective analysis.  No doubt, in many instances wearing a seat belt can be a life saving factor, but that is not the point.  There are many things a person can do in their every day lives that will make them safer or even perhaps save their life.  Is it the states business to mandate PERSONAL safety?  I hope not. 

Comment by Kevin Russell on April 1, 2011 at 12:44pm

Well, the fines break down differently on the various offenses.  That being said I'll compare apples to apples since the topic discussion is seat belts. 


The seat belt ticket is a $50 fine.  It breaks down like this:


$25 goes to the state

$20 to the county (court costs, jail maintenance, etc.)

$5  to the city  



I hope this helps.  

Comment by Kenneth Ray on April 1, 2011 at 11:10am
Kevin, can you also enlighten those just how much the local department issuing the citation gets in funds. Some seem to think it is a large number and I think they would be surprised to see the real percentage.
Comment by Kevin Russell on April 1, 2011 at 10:22am

In 2008, seat belts saved more than 13,000 lives nationwide. From 2004 to 2008, seat belts saved over 75,000 lives — enough people to fill a large sports arena. During a crash, being buckled up helps keep you safe and secure inside your vehicle, whereas being completely thrown out of a vehicle is almost always deadly. Seat belts are the best defense against impaired, aggressive, and distracted drivers.


Less than 1/2%  of 1% (.03% to be exact) of people wearing seatbelts were trapped inside their vehicles and caused more harm by wearing them.  This is usually a common argument against wearing them, and fires and drowning are the most mentioned. 



Comment by Tom Farrow on April 1, 2011 at 6:46am


It is refreshing to hear that you do the same things that all of us do.  Unfortunately there are people out there that think the state has not only a right, but a responsibility to make you and all of us "do the right thing".  Yet human life expectancy, especially in the US, keeps going up.  I'll think about you the next time my wife makes me peel some potatoes.  And if I cut myself, it's my own fault.

Comment by Jonathan Newcomb on March 29, 2011 at 9:25am
Not taking anything away from the police, but the low crime rate 'round here I think says alot about the people who live here.

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