It was bound to happen again. After my first incident of getting snagged in Manhattan a few years ago for not wearing a seatbelt, I got caught again, this time in Westchester county. Not that I wish to get snagged. I almost hate paying the fine more than wearing the dreaded seatbelt, but I suppose I should have expected it.
I don't dispute for a moment that seatbelts save lives. Believe me, I have tried to play it safe and to buckle up a number of times, but every time I end up yanking it off to release myself from the bounds of this contraption. I have nothing against seatbelts. I embrace the fact that cars come equipped with them. My problem is with the oppressive law that forces drivers to wear it.
Sonny Bono lost his life skiing, so should we force skiers to wear bubble wraps? Christopher Reeve was paralyzed after his horseback fall, so should we force people to ride horses on mattresses? Runners have had heart attacks while running, so should we force them to wear heart monitors? Mountain climbers have had fatal falls, so should we set an altitude limit on the sport? I just don't understand this law as far as personal freedom is concerned. Wearing the seatbelt makes me a less safe driver. The constant irritation and pressure of the seatbelt distracts me from paying attention to my driving. I find myself constantly fiddling with the belt to get a little breathing room, and that takes away from being an alert driver.
The seatbelt law wasn't exactly enacted to save lives. That's a side-effect. Like many things in life, you'd have to follow the money to get the real answer. The insurance lobby has certainly played a part, and the municipalities use it to generate revenues.
At this point I have accepted that there is no chance the seatbelt law would ever be repealed. The money factor is just too strong. So I've decided to look at it from another perspective. That is, the occasional fines are a surcharge, sort of a convenience fee, I would have to pay to drive a car. There are a number of fees and charges we have to pay for the privilege of driving. There are registration fees, emissions fees, license fees, property taxes, parking fees, car repair bills, gas bills, and of course, the price of the car itself. The seatbelt fines are just another fee I would have to endure to be afforded that privilege.
Maybe at some point I'll force myself into buckling up and will eventually get used to it. Not because it's the law, but because it's a prudent thing to do. Or maybe I'll end up cracking my skull on the windshield, but at least I would have been more alert behind the wheel and that could have prevented harm to others. As long as I have to pay the fine every now and then, I'd consider it a fair trade-off.