“Click it or ticket.” Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland has proposed a law that would allow police officers to pull over drivers for not wearing their seat belts. The current law allows officers to cite drivers for not wearing seat belts only after pulling them over for another traffic violation. If the law is signed before July 1, Ohio will receive a $26.7 million grant from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The editorial board of The Miami Student supports passing the new law because it will ultimately save lives.
By leveraging the threat of a ticket for failing to wear a seat belt, the law will encourage more people to buckle up. The law is not meant to monopolize officers’ time or become their central focus, though officers will be able to issue citations at their discretion. Still, the purpose of the measure is simply to deter violations. Some members expressed concern about how the law would be enforced. If pulled over, drivers might be tempted to quickly buckle their seat belt and deny driving without it. However, other states, including Indiana and Illinois, have already passed similar laws. We are not advocating specific enforcement mechanisms, which would be left to officers, but we support the law.
While some board members objected that the government should not pass a law that forces people to ensure their own safety, the benefits of the law far outweigh the costs. No one is harmed because the law requires them to fasten a seat belt and many can be saved by wearing it. It is for one’s own good. The law may raise awareness among new drivers of the importance of wearing seat belts. Young drivers who might be inclined to forego the seat belt in an effort to appear cool will have another incentive to buckle up.
The proposed law will also bring in a significant amount of money to Ohio, if it is passed within the designated time period. The nearly $27 million grant is slated to go toward enhancing public safety. Given the troubled financial times, any funds that can be brought into the state would be a boon. But money is not the primary consideration. This law promotes safety and allows officers to make sure that people take precautions to protect their own safety.