AAA's Defense of Seat Belt Laws
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by Diane Weiss
Project Manager
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 issues.

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 higher taxes.

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.


This page was last updated 07/02/00 01:50 PM