by Diane Weiss
Public and Government Relations
[Note: This letter was written in response to Luke Setzer's first
letter regarding seat belt laws.]
Dear Mr. Setzer:
Thank you for taking the time to write to Phyllis Zeno, editor of AAA Going
Places, regarding your thoughts on primary enforcement of seat belt laws and
the motorcycle helmet law. I am pleased to follow up on your comments on both of these
AAA feels very strongly about standardizing the seat bolt law the only traffic law that
cannot be enforced on its own merit. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor
Vehicles estimates that if the safety belt law is standardized, it would result in 171
lives saved per year, eliminate serious injury to another 5,000 people per year AND save
$323.5 million in health care expenses and other economic costs which are often subsidized
by taxpayers per year.
In the most recent survey of AAA members in Florida, 77 percent indicated that they
support standard enforcement of safety belts. In that same survey, only 20 percent opposed
and 4 percent did not express a position.
One of the most common arguments against standard enforcement of safety belt laws is
that a person has the right to choose whether or not to buckle up. But this argument is
fallacious, because requiring safety belts to be used in a moving vehicle is no more of an
infringement on personal rights than requiring motorists to obey speed limits. Both are
within society's right and obligation--to protect its citizens.
No society call afford to pay the cost incurred by risk takers. People who believe they
should be free to decide for themselves fail to recognize that the decision not to wear
safety belts affects everyone through higher insurance premiums, higher medical cost, and
The same argument can be made for those legislators who wish to repeal the mandatory
motorcycle helmet law. Our efforts to defeat the repeal of motorcycle helmet laws are for
the benefit of all highway users, including motorcyclists themselves. Helmets are a key
factor in the prevention of injury and death resulting from motorcycle crashes. We all pay
for the costs of these crashes in the form of emergency medical services, police and fire
rescue personnel, higher insurance premiums and the list goes on. Far more significant are
the emotional costs to the victim's family and loved ones.
In addition, our position on this issue is also supported by a large majority of our
membership. Survey afler survey of our membership in Florida have shown that almost 100
percent oppose the repeal of the motorcycle helmet law.
Mr. Setzer, I am sorry that our viewpoints differ on this particular issue, but I am
glad that there are other safety issues on which we can agree. Please feel free to contact
us at any time, and we appreciate your interest in the Club's legislative programs.