Buckle’em if you got’em

Published 11:15 am Friday, May 8, 2009

When it comes to seatbelts, I personally consider them a first-class nuisance, a pain in the butt, a grand-scale migraine headache.

Yeah, yeah, I know.

You can cite all kinds of traffic driving safety statistics showing thousands of lives saved from vehicle accidents when driver and passengers wear seatbelts. It’s like riding a motorcycle without a helmet, driving 80 mph on the interstate in a raging rain storm, skydiving without a parachute.

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With that said, I still consider seatbelts a nuisance.

Did you know there is only one state without a seat belt law? It’s New Hampshire, but alas, even as we speak, their legislature is reconsidering.

See, I look at it this way. In Georgia, law enforcement can stop you simply for not wearing a seat belt. In several other states, police can only issue you a seatbelt violation citation only after they have observed you violating another traffic law first.

Florida just revised its seat belt law, signed into law this week by Gov. Charles Crist. A bipartisan effort, as it has been billed. Isn’t that nice, Democrats and Republicans working together for the common good.

Now, when you drive over the line into Florida, you can be stopped just like here in Georgia.

Why dredge this up now?

May is seatbelt safety awareness month. So I am making you aware, even though I still consider them a nuisance.

I do buckle up. Sometimes. I click it when my wife reminds me, or if I am interstate driving. Driving on the interstate is madness enough without pushing your luck.

See, up in New Hampshire they have this thing about personal rights. They say it is against personal rights to have a state-mandated seatbelt law. Education, not a government mandate, should rule, observe the New Hampshirites.

Guess they are about to change their minds.

Yes, here in Georgia, it’s a government mandate. Buckle up, buddy. Or don’t buckle up and face a fine of $15.

It’s not uncommon for officers to discover other violations during a routine traffic stop for seatbelt violation: Such as shotguns draped across the back seat of a vehicle; the strong odor of marijuana or coke and other drugs emanating from the interior of the vehicle, possible questionable merchandise in plain view. Criminals are like me. They don’t like to wear seatbelts either.

Yet many non-seatbelt wearing criminals or potential criminals in addition get caught driving with suspended or no driver’s license, or DUI, or charges pending from another violation or parole violation, simply because they think they are from New Hampshire.

Look, if you are going to flaunt the law and not buckle up, at least have a clean criminal record. That way you can pay the 15-buck fine, then get on with your life, without bars hampering your view.

Another reason it’s difficult for me to wear a seatbelt is that it is uncomfortable.

In 2000, heart doctors hacked into my chest, split apart the breast bone, then installed four heart bypasses. That scar has never healed 100 percent, and the belt across the chest is extremely uncomfortable.

Louisiana just has passed a seat belt law. Argument was that if they had a seat belt law last year, 22 lives could have been saved. They didn’t compare how many lives were lost from gang wars, illegal drug overdoses, drive-by drug-related shootings, domestic violence against spouses and children, and other related low-life activities.

In Minnesota this month, instead of a crack down against violent criminal behavior, 400 law enforcement agencies will be involved in the May Mobilization Seat Belt Campaign.

So while the cops are writing tickets for seatbelt violations, the sleezbags of Minnesota will be staging their usual anti social activities.

Anyway. Save yourself $15 bucks. Buckle up. Then the boys with the badges and side arms can concentrate on eliminating Uzi carrying thugs from our fair city.

One final thought—avoid Minnesota. Visit New Hampshire.