Everyone knows that wearing a seat belt lessens the chances of death or injury in automobile accidents. Laws have been passed to encourage passengers to either buckle up or face a ticket or fine. The question is why? Why should someone be punished for risking their own life and no one else's? Is a person fined for attempting suicide? Is a person ticketed for smoking? The answer to both questions is no. So why should someone face legal consequences if he or she decides to endanger him or herself by not wearing a seat belt?.
Mississippi is one state where at least the offense is secondary. This means that an officer can only ticket a driver if there is another reason for pulling the car over. He can't pull a vehicle over just because the driver is not wearing a seat belt. However, Alabama and Georgia are two states that have a primary seatbelt law. This means that simply not wearing a seat belt is cause enough for a driver to be pulled over and ticketed, but why? Most laws are made to keep others from endangering someone else. Whose life is being endangered when a person chooses not to wear a seat belt? No one but the individual. .
Instead of making laws to punish people for not wearing seat belts, a merit system should be developed. For example, in those states where the seat belt offense is a secondary offense, the driver, if pulled over for speeding, could be awarded points for .
wearing his seat belt. These points could count towards his good driving record for insurance purposes or prior fines or misdemeanor offenses. Those states that seem to need strict seat belt laws could then adopt the seat belt law as a secondary offense instead of primary or try the merit system also. These measures would seem more voluntary than mandatory.
Children, however are a different subject altogether. As stated before, everyone knows the positive effects of wearing a seat belt and children should always have on a seat belt or be in some type of restraint.