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October 25, 2006 | South Carolina Headlines


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Struggling with seat belts in South Carolina
Benj Buck
June 9, 2005

To click or not to click, that is the question.  My wife and I disagree over the pros and cons for seat belt use.  The belt creases my starched shirt, rubs my neck, and can be a hassle to put on.  My wife, well, she thinks it’s safer and worth all the inconveniences. She also had law on her side, but I would rebuttal, “No cop can pull me over for it.”  After all, a law that cannot be enforced is merely a suggestion.


After seeing my neighbor thrown from his pick up truck in Indiana, I became a little scared and started buckling up. However, in time the fear wore off and the inconveniences became too much of a hassle.


To click or not to click is not just a personal and family debate, but also a governmental struggle.  THE STATE timelines each step of the seat belt struggle, which goes back to 1989.


Over the last month, as the bill sat on Gov. Sanford’s desk, he too struggled.  “I don’t believe it is the role of the government to protect people from themselves,” Gov. Sanford said in an open letter to Andre Bauer.  Sanford went on to compare seat belt enforcement with tobacco use and poor dieting, and said that people have freedom to make poor personal choices.  “This freedom to choose—to make decisions that are both good and bad—is the defining characteristic of our political system.”


So why does Gov. Sanford allow for primary seat belt enforcement?  “There is no other law I have been able to find in existence in South Carolina that states a citizen cannot be arrested or cited for violating an existing law,” he answers.


But let’s be honest.  Is my decision to not wear a seat belt personal, in that the decision only affects me?  Actually, my poor decision has a direct impact on my family.  In some cases if a sole provider were to be injured or killed because he/she wasn’t wearing a seat belt, his/her family would be forced to depend on tax payers and welfare.  Furthermore, if seat belt use reduces the number of and significance of injury in auto-accidents then wouldn’t health care cost go down? 


I’m not sure I’ll ever enjoy wearing a seat belt, but for your sake I’ll click it. 

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