Overregulation is the problem
Open letter to Rep. Harry Chen:
I read your op-ed piece about why we should tell our legislators to back H.90, the seatbelt ticket law. You’re my legislator, so I’ll explain why we should NOT pass it. First, it’s the kind of creeping over-regulation often practiced in Vermont. Having a seat belt violation law at all was the result of a compromise. You got half the cake during that compromise: If the officer pulls you over, and you’re unbuckled, you get a ticket. But having gotten half the cake years ago, you now push for the other half. You aren’t satisfied with the half you honestly negotiated for and obtained after a hard fight. It’s as though you settle for the half, fully intending to go for the whole thing, once we’ve gotten used to your intrusion into our lives. Makes me think that compromise with you folks is a waste of time. Guess they call it a “slippery slope” for a reason.
For the moment, you represent the people of Chittenden, Mendon and Killington in our legislature. Are you really getting calls from your constituents every day asking you to give the police the power to pull us over and ticket us? Of course you aren’t. You think you’re exercising your judgment to do what’s best for us. So let’s think our way through this together. Not even an hour ago, I nearly got in an accident with another car. Why? Seems our local law enforcement decided to pull someone over on Route 7, and they both stopped in the right hand lane. Traffic slammed on its breaks, cars changed lanes abruptly and we all found ourselves in a potentially dangerous situation. Imagine that, a traffic stop nearly causing an accident.
I’m willing to assume that they did the traffic stop because the motorist was engaged in some conduct that might have endangered me. But how are you going to feel when an innocent person dies because of an accident caused during a stop for seatbelt violations? If even ONE person ever dies like this, it will be on your conscience forever. According to Police Chief Magazine, “stopping on or near the roadway is one of the most dangerous facets of police work.” You really want our police to endanger themselves during traffic stops for seatbelt violations? People get killed accidentally during traffic stops. Don’t just ignore this fact. It’s not acceptable to me that even one innocent person dies, while you try to protect the foolish from possibly harming themselves. And what about enforcement of this nearly pointless law? Do you want our police driving around staring into everyone’s cars looking for a seatbelt violator? You want them to take their eyes off the road, and endanger themselves and other motorists just to catch someone doing something that is a danger to nobody? You can’t even argue that it’s a danger to the unbuckled driver. The best you can say is it MIGHT be.
How about the economics of it? The wasted gasoline as people sit with their cars running while one gives and one gets the ticket. How about the work load? Haven’t we already given the police more work than they can handle? Perhaps you didn’t read the Herald when they pointed out that Vermont already has the lowest fatality rate per mile traveled in the nation. You are pushing for a law that is going to cost money, strain our police resources further, endanger the innocent and get us lower than the lowest, somehow? It’s odd how New Hampshire manages to have the lowest vehicle fatality rate in the country, per capita. Not only are they not wasting precious resources pulling people over for seatbelt violations, they don’t care if you wear one at all, if you’re over 18. Maybe they’re just better drivers than we are.
Please, Harry, go find something constructive to do that will benefit all of us, instead of asking us to penalize ourselves, yet again. If you’re out of ideas, contact my friends at the Vermont Libertarian Party. They’ve got all sorts of ideas to help us make our lives better.