May 23, 2010

Seat belts and your money

Good friend Roger Whorton has written in the past about health care, offering a very personal perspective. Here’s another topic which Roger takes personally: seat belts. In the long wake following a public debate on the topic last year, Roger returns to Black Hills Monitor and shares this pithy piece he sent to the Rapid City Journal some months back.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released statistics for 2006. Seatbelt use saved the lives of 15,383 people. Since 1975, belts have saved 226,567 folks.

One was our daughter, so I take personal interest.

Drivers who do not wear seatbelts are costing you money. Accidents involving those not wearing seat belts cost the U.S. $20 billion per year, and their hospital costs are 50% higher than patients who use belts. You, the taxpayer, pay 74% of the tab.

About 28% of South Dakotans do not wear seatbelts, and yet this group made up 77% of the fatalities (117 or 147 total deaths) in a recent year’s statistics.

I’ve heard the arguments saying seatbelts should be a personal choice, but not when not using belts is costing all of us money, and killing young people.

Are we now turning down $5.2 million in federal funds that could be used for road improvement, if we do not allow police to stop motorists not wearing seatbelts? Sometimes the feds push us into doing something because they know it is for the public good, and will save money and lives.

Why would any legislator or the RCJ be against that?

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