Some of the first news I heard this morning was that the Massachusetts chapter of MADD (Mothers Against Driving Drunk) was calling for a change in the commonwealth’s seat belt laws. Currently the law mandates seat belt use, but it isn’t a “primary enforcement” offense — you can’t be stopped for simply not wearing your belt; you can only be cited for it after being stopped for another offense. I predict it’ll pass.
The Massachusetts Legislature has a record of flat-out lying to people through “creeping incrementalism.” When they first debated a mandatory seat belt law, first it was “for minors only.” Then it was “mandatory, but it won’t be a surchargeable offense.” (Meaning that it wouldn’t affect violators’ insurance rates.) Then it “would be a surchargeable offense, but not a primary enforcement offense.” Now they want to make it a primary enforcement offense, giving the police yet another reason (on top of the 1300+ reasons already on the books) to pull you over.
Can anyone tell me the link between drunk driving and seat belts? Are drunks usually so uncoordinated they can’t connect the tab and the buckle of their seat belts? Does the smell of alcohol somehow weaken the fabric of a seat belt?
Here’s a bit from MADD’s on web site:
Seat belts save lives. For every percentage point the national seat belt usage rate increases, an additional 280 lives are saved per year. (Runge, 2003) Every state but New Hampshire requires its citizens to wear seat belts. Unfortunately, over half of US states have secondary enforcement laws, meaning that a law enforcement officer has to pull someone over for a different violation and only then is able to write an additional citation for a seat belt violation. This means that officers can pull someone over for a broken taillight, but they can’t pull someone over for failing to use the most important piece of safety equipment in the car