Why Not Let Cops Stop People for Unbuckled Seat Belts?

Yesterday I discovered two things: 1) Israel has a mandatory seat belt law, and 2) like the law in 32 U.S. states, it authorizes primary enforcement, meaning police can pull you over simply for failing to buckle up. Although the experience turned out to be no more than an inconvenience, it illustrates what can happen when the law gives police an all-purpose excuse to detain motorists.

Driving my parents' 1990 Mitsubishi station wagon on Route 1 between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem with my wife, two of our daughters, and one of our nieces, I was puzzled to see a police car with flashing lights pull up alongside us. I knew I hadn't been speeding or made any illegal maneuvers, and I wasn't even sure the cops were targeting me until they announced it over their P.A. speaker. The officer who approached on the passenger side accused us of letting our daughters (who are 6 and 9) ride with their seat belts unfastened. When we pointed out that both had their belts on, he said that was because we had fastened them after we were pulled over. What had actually happened, I discovered, was that my wife, riding in the back seat, had unfastened her belt while half asleep because she was having trouble breathing, then refastened it as the cop approached our car. Seeing my Texas driver's license, the officer asked for my passport, which I had left back in Jerusalem at my brother's house. "So how do I know you're really an American?" the officer said. Um, because I have a Texas driver's license? Also: Why does it matter? After initially threatening to take all of us to the nearest police station until the question of our citizenship could be sorted out, he decided to let us go with a lecture about the importance of seat belts after confirming that we had in fact arrived in Israel on June 8, although it's not clear why he deemed that better evidence of my nationality than my driver's license.

Why did it matter whether we were American? Presumably because we could then be excused for not knowing that "Israeli law requires the use of seat belts for all occupants of a motor vehicle," as the U.S. State Department helpfully explains here. In Texas, by contrast, adults are free to travel unrestrained in the back seat. Given the possibility of dual citizenship, of course, neither my Texas driver's license nor my U.S. passport proves that I am not also an Israeli, fully knowledgeable of the relevant law but recklessly choosing to disregard it. Perhaps my crappy Hebrew saved us.

In any event, although Israel's law applies to adults as well as children, the cop's avowed concern was that our kids were bouncing around in the back seat, ready to fly through the windshield in the event of a collision. He stopped us based on a suspicion that the children were not wearing seat belts—a suspicion that proved to be unfounded. Thus does primary enforcement of seat belt laws provide an excuse for stopping anyone at any time, especially since the cop can always claim you buckled your belt only after you saw him. And once you've been pulled over, there are further opportunities for harassment investigation, such as vehicle searches based on an odor the officer claims to have smelled, a drug dog's alleged "signal,"  or your "consent" to a "request" from an armed agent of the state who has the power to deprive you of your freedom. A search might not even be necessary if the cop claims to have seen something suspicious "in plain sight."

Assuming you're not carrying anything that justifies detaining you further, in some states, including Texas, you can be arrested (and maybe, if you're lucky, strip-searched!) simply for driving with your seat belt unbuckled—a violation that rests entirely on an officer's word. In Arizona, you can be detained based on suspicion that you are in the country illegally, an authority that is apt to disproportionately affect people with dark skin and foreign accents (which is why the Supreme Court, in rejecting a Supremacy Clause challenge to this provision, left open the possibility of a challenge based on the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause). Elsewhere police might decide to confiscate your cash, jewelry, or car based on a hunch that it is connected to drug dealing in some way—a hunch you then have to disprove through a process that probably will cost more than the property is worth. 

These are some of the consequences that flow from a policy of protecting people from their own lack of care by letting police stop them for not wearing seat belts. Back in 2005, when I wrote a feature story for Reason about seat belt and motorcycle helmet laws, I asked an advocate of primary enforcement about the possibility of such unintended consequences:

As states move toward primary enforcement (which the transportation bill signed by President Bush in August encourages them to do with a promise of extra highway money), seat belt laws may arouse more resentment and concern, especially since traffic stops can lead to further hassles, such as interrogation and examinations by drug-sniffing dogs. Fear of racially tinged police harassment was the main reason New Jersey, the second state to adopt a seat belt law, did not follow New York's lead in allowing primary enforcement, and most states copied the New Jersey model. "Do I think racial profiling is an issue?" says MADD's Chuck Hurley, who lobbied for stricter seat belt laws when he worked at the National Safety Council. "Yes, I do." But Hurley doubts primary enforcement of seat belt laws will noticeably worsen the problem, and he argues that it makes sense as a matter of consistency: If you can be pulled over for a broken tail light, why not for failing to buckle up? One answer is that the broken tail light poses a potential hazard to others, while the unbuckled seat belt does not. But unless they want to repeal existing seat belt requirements, says Hurley, politicians who oppose primary enforcement are left to argue, rather implausibly, that it's "the Maginot Line between enough government and too much government."

Yet even those who see nothing wrong with requiring motorists to wear seat belts may reasonably perceive a distinct risk from letting cops use that policy as yet another excuse to mess with people.

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  • ||

    how about some STATS?

    do states with primary enforcement of seatbelt laws see... wait for it... greater compliance with seatbelt laws?

    if that's true, then at least there is evidence that primary enforcement WORKS (for other than "harassment")

    if it's not true, and i would assume a state would have to have had primary enforcement for at least a year or more for an effect, if any, to be seen, then that's a much more robust argument against primary enforcement

    the "justification" for primary enforcement is the belief that IF cops can stop people for merely not wearing a seatbelt, that MORE people will eventually wear seatbelts, because people don't want to get stopped and get tickets.

    when i was a cop in hawaii, we got federal grant money to work seatbelt enforcement fwiw. your tax dollars at work.

    the more socialized medicine is, the more that not wearing a seatbelt would effect others, since the injuries are far more severe when people don't wear them.

  • ||

    i have serious reservations about primary enforcement, and seatbelt laws in general, but i also am tired of seeing horrendous injuries that easily could have been prevented by a very minor, non-privacy encroaching, minimally inconvenient action - taking a second or two to buckle up.

    people who get paralyzed btw, which is far more likely if they are not wearing seatbelts, become a substantial tax burden in many cases.

    and at least in my state, seatbelt laws don't apply on private property, only on public roadways.

    let's remember one thing. traffic fatality rates are about 1/5 what they were at our peak. that's an incredible # of lives saved. the move from lap belts to lap/shoulder belts happened in this period, as well as mandatory seatbelt laws.

    again, one of the primary issues should be "do primary seatbelt laws make a difference in compliance rates" because ALL other issues aside (whether we should even have seatbelt laws for instance), if primary enforcement can't be shown to be an effective way to increase compliance, then it's BAD policy, all other factors aside.

  • JeremyR||

    It's not the government's business to save people from their own stupidity.

    And frankly, I'd rather pay money to take care of dumbasses who didn't use them and get hurt than give the government any more police power.

  • ||

    fine, that's a tradeoff your willing to accept

    i consider that driving is a privilege not a right, and is, and should be a highly regulated activity.

    i also consider that the inconvenience of spending a couple of seconds to affix a seatbelt doesn't infringe on areas where you have a privacy interest, and is an exceptionally minor inconvenience with exceptionally large benefits.

    thus, i support seatbelt laws.

    also, as a matter of pragmatism, again, people who get serious injuries in collisions in a substantial # of cases end up costing EVERYBODY

    again, if driving on a public roadway wasn't a privilege, i'd agree with you. unlike using drugs, eating like shit and other self regarding activities that do not involve exceptionally dangerous privileges, driving does involve a privilege, and govt. should and does have the authority to place reasonable restrictions, which it does.

    i can live with that tradeoff, whether or not it passes a libertarian purity test.

    legalize heroin? fine with me.

    but eliminate seatbelt laws? not fine with me

    i can agree to disagree.

  • Mickey Rat||

    "i consider that driving is a privilege not a right, and is, and should be a highly regulated activity."

    Proper regulation is about activities that can directly harm others and their property. Activities that only have potential direct harm to yourself are not things government should have authority over.

    "also, as a matter of pragmatism, again, people who get serious injuries in collisions in a substantial # of cases end up costing EVERYBODY"

    Which is essentially a claim of ownership of each individual by the collective "everybody", that has no limits as we see in every other nanny state measure.

    "i also am tired of seeing horrendous injuries that easily could have been prevented..."

    The purpose of the law is not to protect your tender sensibilities.

  • KPres||

    "i also am tired of seeing horrendous injuries that easily could have been prevented..."

    Then maybe you should quit. But then you wouldn't get to go around killing innocent people's beloved family dogs, now would you fuckwad?

  • some guy||

    the more socialized medicine is, the more that not wearing a seatbelt would effect others, since the injuries are far more severe when people don't wear them.

    This seems to be the main reason you support seat belt laws (combined with the fact that most roads are government owned.)

    Yet you don't seem to have a problem with people "using drugs, eating like shit", even though those activities certainly cause more healthcare costs than does not using a seatbelt. Why the inconsistency?

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Fuck. Off. Slaver.

  • R C Dean||

    i consider that driving is a privilege not a right,

    Do you consider any forms of travel to be a right, and not a privilege?

  • The Hammer||

    Don't bother looking for logical consistency from Dunphy, RC. He is head and shoulders above the commenters at Policeone in regards to liberty, but that is a pretty low bar.

  • Robert||

    I agree that owning the roads gives the owner not only the right, but the responsibility to determine matters like the rules of wearing passenger restraints. I think the same thing when it comes to carrying weapons. But I think that it's bad policy for gov't (as owner of the streets) to adopt restrictive rules regarding weapons carriage in the streets as well as mandating safety belt wearing. The purpose of the state's ownership of the streets is to afford us good transport'n, and inasmuch as not wearing seat belts doesn't impair other people's use of that transport'n, just as being forbidden to carry weapons doesn't make others safer on the streets, such rules don't fit the governmental purpose.

  • Torontonian||

    Compliance with a law isn't a valid objective if the law itself is unjustified.

    I'm not opposed to seatbelt use. I had one head-on collision when I was 16. I was driving and wearing my seatbelt, my friend in the passenger seat was not. She wasn't badly hurt... nothing permanent, but I was completely unscathed. I've worn a seatbelt religiously ever since, and I tell anyone in my vehicle to do the same.

    Despite all of that, I don't believe the state has any authority to require any individual to wear a seat belt, even on public roadway, since you're not harming anyone else by not wearing it. The same is true for motorcycle helmets. Why not mandate helmets for car drivers... or pedestrians?

    Yes, there may be a tax burden from dealing with avoidable injuries. If so, they stop spending tax dollars on things that are an individuals' responsibility and not the taxpayer's.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    That sums the issue up nicely. Furthermore, there is no justification for any federal seatbelt law pressure in our Constitution. That is why it was pushed through the federal system of bribery known as highway funding.

    On the State level, there should be no justification for the regulation of non-commercial means of travel and regulation of commercial means are tenuous at best.

  • KPres||

    "let's remember one thing. traffic fatality rates are about 1/5 what they were at our peak"

    First off, it's more like 1/2. And secondly, that has FAR more to do with general public awareness than it does with laws. I know exactly ZERO people who wear their seat belts because of the fine. They all do it for their own safety.

  • R C Dean||

    And secondly, that has FAR more to do with general public awareness than it does with laws.

    I suspect it has as much to do with better engineering and technology.

  • Metazoan||

    This. My girlfriend was in an accident on the GS Parkway, but sustained only minor injuries. She was wearing a seatbelt, but had it not been for the better technology, I don't think that would have mattered at 65mph.

  • some guy||

    There is evidence showing that the seat belt only increases survival rates because it decrease the odds of you being thrown from the vehicle, which almost always results in a fatality. But most accidents, even at high speeds, wouldn't result in an ejection anyway. The benefit of seat belts is limited by the physics of the collisions. As long as the car isn't rolling at high speeds, you don't really benefit from wearing one. (Maybe tonight I'll have the will to look up a citation...)

    That said, I always wear a seatbelt because I'm willing to sacrifice a few seconds every day in order to eliminate the very small chance of this particular type of catastrophe. That's my decision, though, and no one else's.

  • Robert||

    The value of seat belts seems to be primarily or exclusively in reducing less than fatal injuries. When it comes to fatalities produced by objects hitting or crushing passengers, the seat belt is as likely to keep the passenger from ducking them successfully as it is to keep hir from being knocked into the way of something.

  • some guy||

    let's remember one thing. traffic fatality rates are about 1/5 what they were at our peak. that's an incredible # of lives saved. the move from lap belts to lap/shoulder belts happened in this period, as well as mandatory seatbelt laws.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.....S._by_year

    Death rates are about 1/3 the peak... which happened back in the '30s. A lot more than seat belt laws has happened since then. Air bags, crumple zones, anti-lock brakes, general safety awareness, etc. To attribute all or most of those lives "saved" to seat belt laws is ridiculous.

    Even if you are using the local max in the '60s as your baseline, my statement still holds true.

  • Rasilio||

    Interesting graph that shows that increased use of seatbelts probably did not have much if any impact on fatality rates.

    If you look at it seatbelt use became manditory in the 80's (first law was NY in 84 and all states save NH have required it since 95) and from 85 through 2000 fatality rates did decline very slowly but the net effect was only about a 12% decrease in the fatality rate. However during that time anti lock brakes also became standard on all cars so it is hard to tell how much of that decline is from increased seatbelt use and how much from other factors.

    However since 2000 the rate has dropped by around 31%, likely as a result of the widespread availability of airbags.

    Net result, yes seatbelt laws may have saved lives on net, however whatever impact they had is unclear and is dwarfed by improvements in vehicle safety technology, Further there is no proof that if seatbelt laws were removed today that people who have developed a habit of wearing them would revert to not doing so and as such there is no proof that maintaining such laws is a valid thing to do going forward.

  • Coeus||

    Oh

    my

    god.

    Are you telling me a cop just used a bogus safety statistic to justify an expansion of police powers?

    Are the rest of you as shocked as I am?

  • KPres||

    "the more socialized medicine is, the more that not wearing a seatbelt would effect others, since the injuries are far more severe when people don't wear them."

    And now you see why the sort of "soft" socialism favored by progressives ALWAYS has to degrade into a totalitarian police state.

    It can't end with seat belts, because the same logic applies to EVERYTHING.

  • KPres||

    Oh, but BTW, I don't accept this logic. It was used in the Obamacare debate as a justification for individual mandate.

    I'm fine with government having a role in protecting external 3rd parties from other private parties, but not in protecting 3rd parties from the government's own laws (such as laws that force medical centers to treat the uninsured). So, if something's going to be socialized, then society should have to pay for the outcomes of that in its entirety. Sucks for taxpayers, but its as the lesser of two infringements on the individuals' rights.

  • KPres||

    "It can't end with seat belts, because the same logic applies to EVERYTHING."

    Here's some other laws that should be considered to protect 3rd parties thanks to socialized medicine.

    1. One alcoholic drink limit.
    2. Outlaw contact sports. Too many injuries.
    3. Outlaw television. People need to exercise.
    4. Regimented diets.

    And make no mistake, people like Tony would defend every single one of those if they were made as serious proposals. Good progressives don't like people that do any of those things anyway.

  • Metazoan||

    I doubt they'd go with #3. Having the population placated watching whatever sports or reality show is on tonight is pretty useful to tyrants.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    Are you a consultant to Michelle Obama and Michael Bloomberg, or are you just an astute observer?

  • GILMORE||

    Dunphy (the real one)|7.13.12 @ 5:11AM|#
    how about some STATS?

    do states with primary enforcement of seatbelt laws see... wait for it... greater compliance with seatbelt laws?

    How would they *know* unless they're randomly pulling people over for no reason again?

    Its a completely self-justifying system - which 'proves' it works by allowing cops discretion pull people over whenever they feel.

  • ||

    "Thus does primary enforcement of seat belt laws provide an excuse for stopping anyone at any time, especially since the cop can always claim you buckled your belt only after you saw him. And once you've been pulled over, there are further opportunities for harassment investigation, such as vehicle searches based on an odor the officer claims to have smelled, a drug dog's alleged "signal," or your "consent" to a "request" from an armed agent of the state who has the power to deprive you of your freedom. A search might not even be necessary if the cop claims to have seen something suspicious "in plain sight."

    i love the scare quotes.

    that aside, even without primary seatbelt laws, a cop can already lie to pull you over and make up some other bogus reason (e.g. "you were weaving").

    iow, if a cop is crooked enough to lie, he doesn't need seatbelt laws, there are plenty of other infractions he could lie about. iow, i see this as a baseless worry. a cop who is crooked enough to lie (which imo should always be a firing offense) to take away somebody's liberty doesn't need primary enforcement seatbelt laws.

    i especially love the scare quotes around "plain sight". iow, again, if a cop is crooked enough to lie he can get away with a lot of shit, at least for a while, and of course should not be a cop.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Oh thank you so very very much for caring so dearly about my safety, officer fuckstick.

  • ||

    smooches, troll

  • TomD||

    Er... When someone offers a libertarian sentiment on a libertarian website, can they really be a "troll"?

  • ||

    however, a mere cursory review of cop case law journals like the lED, which i have provided the link to, show a metric assload of cases where a cop easily COULD have lied to make a bad case good, but DIDN't and suffered a suppression.

    i had one once where i saw a gun under the seat but had broken the plane of the open window by about two inches with my forehead in order to see it. the judge (imo correctly) ruled this violated plain view doctrine (even though we had already arrested the driver for rape at gunpoint... since hawaii didn't allow search incident to arrest of a vehicle). could i have lied and said the gun was visible w/o breaking the plane?

    sure.

    but good cops don't lie on the stand. period. full stop.

    we lost the gun (hawaii doesn't like inevitable discovery doctrine, nor does my curret state, and it would have been inevitably discovered)

    the point is if a cop is crooked enough to lie, he hardly needs primary enforcemetn of seatbelts to pull people over for bogus reasons.

    and again, any cop who is going to make up reasons to stop a MV shouldn't be a cop.

    again, my point about the LED is it is relatively easy to make up a lie in many (if not most) of these cases that had suppressions but cops DID NOT do it. and imo and ime the vast majority of cops would never lie to justify a bad stop.

  • R C Dean||

    good cops don't lie on the stand. period.

    Sure. And bad ones do. And the "good" ones who let the bad ones get away with it are bad, as well.

  • Scooby||

    You know, it's the 99% that are crooked pigs (or enablers of crooked pigs) that really give the other ones a bad name.

  • ||

    at least in my agency, the policy is clear. if you get overzealous during a stop and make a search or frisk or whatever that in retrospect does not appear justified, that's not going to get you in trouble, assuming it's not a pattern. iow, we recognize cops make mistakes.

    but if you LIE about it, you WILL get fired, no questions asked , full stop.

    it's simply not worth it, among other reasons to risk losing a career where you can EASILY make 6 figures a year and get great benefits.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    "but if you LIE about it, you WILL get fired, no questions asked , full stop."

    Seriously? More proof is required to refute the numerous examples that this flies in the face of in all levels of USA law enforcement.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    but if you LIE about it, you WILL get fired, no questions asked , full stop.

    Must be awesome to work for the Mayberry Sheriff's office. How's Aunt Bee?

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    RIP Andy Griffith. Now the Barneys are running the show. And whether you're talking about the dopey deputy with the empty gun, or the purple dinosaur, it's bad news for Mayberry.

  • GILMORE||

    even without primary seatbelt laws, a cop can already lie to pull you over and make up some other bogus reason (e.g. "you were weaving"

    So your idea here is that there is no hope for actual proper enforcement, since cops can lie about anything anyway?

    Way to hold the line on principle there. Realpolitik policing: how does it work?

  • JeremyR||

    For the most part, traffic police are nothing but a protection racket, shaking down people who pass through their territory.

    And yes, they will just think of something else. I've been pulled over for driving with one hand on the wheel.

  • ||

    rubbish. polling data, as well as various NHTSA studies show what criminologists, cops and people with common sense know - perceived risk of apprehension is a strong deterrent.

    iow, if cops do traffic enforcement, people become more compliant with traffic laws.

    heck, when i was a young buck, EVERYBODY knew you don't speed through king city on the way to surf Norcal, or you will get a ticket.

    guess what? nobody sped through king city.

    for the average person (iow not gangbanger etc.) driving is BY FAR the most statistically dangerous thing they do.

    traffic enforcement works to decrease the danger, and (for example) when we got more aggressive with DUI enforcement, DUI incidents went WAY down.

    it's not fucking rocket science.

    decades ago, you were MUCH less likely to get caught if you were DUI, and the sentences were much lighter, and people KNEW that. consequently, the fatality rates were much higher, specifically related to DUI's

    many people won't drive DUI because they think it's morally wrong. but a good percentage WOULD be much more likely to do it BUT for fear of apprehension, which has increased substantially

  • ||

    i know when i was in college, i, like most teenagers was arrogant enough to think "hey, i can drive fine after 5 beers" but i was also cognizant that if i got caught i would be "proper fucked" monetarily and otherwise, and it was a strong deterrent not to drive DUI

    i also really like the habitual dui felony laws that some states have passed.

    as somebody who has had an academy classmate killed by a drunk driver, as well as a couple of other friends, i am glad we enforce it aggressively.

    as i mentioned in another post, i know a few officers in my agency who have been arrested for DUI. again, that['s good. cops are NOT cutting other cops breaks (at least in those cases), and cops get the same punishment as "civilians"

    traffic enforcement makes our neighborhoods, highways etc. safer

    that's a good thing.

  • Rasilio||

    You know I have some serious doubts on DUI laws.

    Sure the average person is dangerous as hell when drunk but I have known people for whom this is not the case.

    For example, my father worked for about 15 years as a courier in Boston. Drove around a big ass econoline van full of office supplies and whatever other stuff people needed delivered cross town same day. During that time he averaged driving 300 miles a day and there was not a single one where he was not drunk by 2 PM. This translates to somewhere around 30,000 miles a year worth of drunk driving, all of it being done while under heavy deadline pressure in one of the busiest traffic cities in the country and never once did he have a serious accident, and by serious I mean worse than minor body damage to either vehicle or bodily injury to any party.

    You want to know the kicker, my father was by far not the biggest drunk working for that courier service and every one of those other guys had similar stats, and none of them was ever pulled over for drunk driving.

    If the folks at MADD are to be believed each of them should have killed at least a half a dozen people and yet none of them had ever even so much as injured anyone.

    On average yes, people are dangerous behind the wheel when drunk but the argument that it is impossible to drive safely while drunk I have some serious questions about because I have seen it done.

  • Whahappan?||

    Bullshit. Traffic enforcement is a power trip and money grab, nothing more. And seatbelt laws are reprehensible, and you show your true nature by your support of them. (BTW, I always wear my seatbelt, and always have.)

  • Coeus||

    Since people are proven more likely to follow traffic laws when they see a cop car, the existence and use of undercover cop cars proves it's nothing more than highway robbery, with little to no regard for public safety.

    Not only that, but if cops really believed that the laws made people safer, they wouldn't be breaking them all the fucking time.

  • General Butt Naked||

    So, no manuals allowed?

    Dicks.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    "Yet even those who see nothing wrong with requiring motorists to wear seat belts may reasonably perceive a distinct risk from letting cops use that policy as yet another excuse to mess with people."

    I'm guessing they won't. Anyone who's willing to give up that amount of freedom and choice for 'safety' will easily make the leap to allowing primary enFORCEment.

    I'd be willing to bet that somewhere less than 1% of people who approve of seatbelt laws would have an issue with primary enforcement.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    The hilarious part being that they're happy letting people too dumb to get into the army take care of their safety.

  • ||

    yawn

    boring troll is boring.

    (note according to the FBI LEJ, cops average IQ is around 110, which while hardly stellar is well above average)

  • ||

    according to the FBI LEJ, cops average IQ is around 110

    They must be using the metric system.

  • Rasilio||

    Lol I'm guessing yours must be lower because if you had an IQ of 110 you'd know that by definition average is 100 and anything between 91 and 110 is considered within the average range. 111 - 130 is above average and above 131 is genuis.

    So if they average cop has an IQ of 110 that means that they as a group are at the high end of the average of society but by no means above average.

  • some guy||

    While we're being pedantic...

    He said "above average", not "above the average range" (What does "average range" even mean? Middle 50%?). 110 puts the average cop in the 75th percentile, right below the average for college graduates and those in technical/professional fields.

  • Rasilio||

    Actually 110 isn't even that high, it would be somewhere around the 60th percentile, maybe as high as the 65th but certainly not higher than that.

    Average Range would refer to the 1st standard deviation from the defined median of 100 or the range from 85 - 115.

    This would make the "average" cop "smarter" than the average non cop however the distinction would likely be largely unnoticable on a day to day basis because the gap is so small and accurately measuring intelligence is impossible anyway.

  • Coeus||

    There is no way anything over 131 is genius.

  • some guy||

    Name one law enforcement officer who was "too dumb to get into the army". Just one.

  • R C Dean||

    I nominate the one who shot himself while demonatrating gun safety.

  • some guy||

    I've seen soldiers do much dumber things than that. I know a warrant officer who will probably never fly again because he thought it would be easier to exit the second floor of a barracks by climbing out the window, rather than walking to the stairs at the other end of the building.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Maybe you're right. I should have said cowardly.

  • ||

    We used to have an ad on tv here...a louisiana state trooper claimiing that he had never unbuckled a dead person, so we should buckle up. Its the law! yada yada.

    My girlfriend at the time was a paramedic. She would snort and say that the trooper was right, he never unbuckled a dead person because cops wont touch accident victims. She was the one who unbuckled the dead people, and she did it all the time.

    Dunphy says above " traffic fatality rates are about 1/5 what they were at our peak.". A couple of years ago I asked my insurance agent if seat belt laws had cut down on fatalities. He squirmed around and said very quickly " cell phones have made up the difference". In other words, No.

  • ||

    I dont know what stats to trust on the matter since there is so much money involved and too many motives for steering the results to get a desired outcome.

    In any case, seat belt laws are a pretty straightforward sacrifice of liberty for safety. Isnt there a saying about that?

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Yeah, I think it's "one who would sacrifice freedom for safety is a very good citizen."

  • ||

    well, yes. the liberty to drive without a seatbelt on a public roadway is being infringed on, which is clearly an important civil right. jesus christ...

    as i have said before, driving is a privilege, not a right. it's an activity that requires a license, and is (as it should be) heavily regulated. for most people, it is BY FAR the most dangerous thing they do, and also the thing they do that is most likely to place others in danger.

    society places REASONable restrictions on this extremely hazardous activity, and that's a good thing.

    whether or not the quote about cell phones is true or not, it's entirely irrelevant to the issue.

    the simple fact is that driving with a seatbelt is substantially safer than driving without one. yes, it is a law that protects you from yourself. although again, people that get critically injured that wouldn't have gotten so if they wore a seatbelt, in a SUBSTANTIAL %age of cases become a tax etc. burden since they lose productivity and instead of working, end up on disability and other programs that are paid for through taxes.

  • ||

    they also incur substantially higher medical bills , and place a greater burden on emergency medical services, ER's etc. that ESPECIALLY ex-post obama care, costs EVERYBODY

    again, if riding without a seatbelt was even a minor important liberty, i'd be concerned. but again, considering the nature of driving (a privilege vs. most other nannystate bullshit which does not reference privileges e.g. transfat bans, salt bans, drug laws, etc.), i'm not going to lose any sleep over it.

    if you are stupid enough to drive w/o a seatbelt, more power to you

  • ||

    I am in agreement with almost everything you have said.
    I would say that there are no minor liberties or minor infringments on liberty in general. Once justifications are made for 'minor' infringements on liberty , major ones follow.

    I would also warn you against making the old 'taxpayer is on the hook' argument. The answer is, if the taxpayer doesnt like being on the hook, then get off the hook.

    Your point that cops who are willing to lie dont need seatbelt laws is a good one.

  • KPres||

    "society places REASONable restrictions on this extremely hazardous activity, and that's a good thing."

    The death rate from auto accidents has at no point in history exceeded 0.005% That's what you call "extremely hazardous"?

  • Auric Demonocles||

    well, yes. the liberty to drive without a seatbelt on a public roadway is being infringed on, which is clearly an important civil right. jesus christ...

    "I don't care about this right so fuck you if you do".

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    ^^^This. A right is a right is a right. Infringement of or disrespect for any right, whether major or minor, undermines rights in general. At first, only the minor, weaker ones will fade away. But then the major ones are attacked, and fall, one by one. This is not just hypothetical hyperbole. We have seen this process in action for decades. How can we tolerate a cavalier attitude toward rights at all any more?

  • Rasilio||

    The one place here where you are somewhat correct is identifying that driving is not a right unless you happen to own the road, which you don't the government does.

    If Roads were privatized (something most around these parts would support) and those private companies passed a rule that seat belt use was a precondition of using their roads again not many would have much of a problem with it. However since the government owns the roads people on both sides of the issue conflate it's right to impose conditions for use on their property with their police power to enforce laws.

    In the end Seatbelt laws are not an imposition on liberty because a private property owner could (an in some cases might) pass an identical restriction for use of their property so there is no logical reason the government could not also do so.

    That said I think you and the rest of the moralists as usual are massively overselling the risks of driving without your seatbelt on. Sure, if you get in a major accident without one you are at higher risk, that is an undeniable fact but that is also not a fact that makes legislation of your choices legitimate because the increase in risk is far smaller than many other risky activities people engage in every day without anyone batting an eye or suggesting they should be outlawed.

  • Mykeuva||

    "In the end Seatbelt laws are not an imposition on liberty because a private property owner could (an in some cases might) pass an identical restriction for use of their property so there is no logical reason the government could not also do so."

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but is your argument that just b/c a private company could do this on a private road, the government can do it on a public road b/c they own the public road?

    Doesn't that ignore the fact that private companies can do all sorts of things that the government cannot? The company I work for can state that any political speech in the office will not be allowed as a condition of working there. The government cannot ban political speech as a condition of living here.

    Unless I've mistaken your argument...

  • Rasilio||

    You are both right and wrong.

    No, the government cannot ban political speech as a condition of living here, but it can do so within the confines of it's offices as a condition of employment and often does so. Therefore if you were a state employee you are free to say and do whatever you like off hours, but you could not while on duty engage in political speech.

    You will note that the state cannot impose a seat belt law on you while you are in your living room (well at least not yet) but if you are arguing that the state cannot impose the terms and conditions for use of the roadways that it owns because that is restricting liberty then you are arguing that signs and streetlights are unconstitutional and that the government could not restrict you from carrying a gun into a courtroom for example.

    No the problem here is not that the state passes seatbelt laws, it is that the State owns the roads in the first place but if it is going to own them then a seatbelt law is a reasonable restriction to place on it's use and if you are not happy with that you can either go build your own roads or simply not drive.

  • perlhaqr||

    as i have said before, driving is a privilege, not a right.

    Well, you've certainly said it, but that doesn't make it true.

  • aelhues||

    I grew up with a dad who was a paramedic. If I was in a car, I had a seatbelt on. He saw too many mangled bodies from accidents where a person was ejected from the vehicle, or in some other way mangled. While I know he had to cut belts off of some who were dead, in his opinion, seat belts dramatically reduced ones chances of serious injury or death in a crash.

    Despite that, I still think it should be my choice, and I see no reason whatsoever that traffic cops should be spending time pulling people over if they see, or think they see someone not wearing a seatbelt.

  • Robert||

    I wear the belts routinely because of my fear of far-less-than-fatal injury caused by 2nd impact. However, in a stody some decades back by the AAA here in NYC (or publicized by them), the percentage of front seat occupants belted in when stopped at a traffic light equaled the percentage belted in in a fatal crash. That is, seat belts made no difference as to fatalities. Yet the AAA article, of course, failed to do that little bit of analysis of the data they presented and somehow concluded that seat belts saved lives in NYC.

    I was told by the late Pres Veltman that seat belts took as many lives as they saved, but that helmets would save lives in auto accidents. What I wonder about is why there's never AFAIK been a push to promote helmet wearing in passenger cars.

  • Robert||

    http://articles.baltimoresun.c.....neer-grace if you're wondering. Pres was a brilliant scientist and a great guy to work with.

  • Pi Guy||

    Dunphy:
    After reading your comments here, I do not at all doubt your sincerity about the goodness in people or your view of the wrongness of the War on Flowers. However, it's not obvious that you're representative of LEOs in general. I'll just jump to the chase:

    About a month ago, I was pulled over in my sleepy little town under suspicion of driving unbuckled - which was not at all the case. I was, however, Driving While Wearing a Ponytail while simultaneously Driving While Smoking an All-Tobacco Blunt as I drove past him at a traffic light. White people around here don't wear ponytails and smoke blunts.

    Cop stopped me and then let me go saying that he'd "take my word for it" that my belt was buckled the whole time. IOW, my car didn't smell like pot so he had to let me go.

    Plain and simple, Dunph: this was the equivalent of Driving While Black. I looked out of place, cop figured he had a shot at a drug arrest. He didn't care two whits whether or not I was wearing my seat belt. He wanted an opportunity to tell his kids and his buddies back at the barracks how he had to wrestle a hippie to the ground and put his jack boot on the neck of some drug-addled loser. Just didn't work out for him that day.

  • ||

    There was an article this week here at Reason about a woman who was arrested for warning motorists about a 'speed trap'. While arresting someone for advising her fellow citizens to obey the law is outrageous, the most interesting thing that came out of the discussion was a link someone posted in the comments to the PoliceOne article about the incident.

    In the comments there, to the cops credit, were many in support of the woman. However, one commenter specifically said that the woman, by warning motorists of the 'speed trap', was aiding and abetting criminals of all stripes. In other words, he saw the 'speed trap' as a pretense for randomly checking people for dope or warrants.

    Yall give Dunphy ( the real one ) too much grief. He is well intentioned and argues in good faith, even when he is wrong. In this case, he isnt wrong. Well, except for mentioning the 'taxpayer on the hook' bit, that one makes my blood boil.

  • Pi Guy||

    FWIW, I agree also that Dunphy has always argued in good faith. And I agree that he's wrong about seat belts being sufficient primary cause, from a liberty standpoint, for stopping a motorist.

  • sarcasmic||

    He is well intentioned and argues in good faith

    Remember that Dunphy has worked undercover.

    That means he is well practiced at the art of gaining trust for the purpose of betrayal.

    I wouldn't give him too much credit.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    He ignores the fact that everyone one else is arguing what how things should be. He just falls back on "ISH DA LAW!" Yesterday or the day before when he was arguing about sick leave he even said something along the lines of "It's in my contract so suck it."

  • Coeus||

    If you think he argues in good faith, then you've probably never had an argument with him.

  • Randian||

    Yall give Dunphy ( the real one ) too much grief. He is well intentioned and argues in good faith, even when he is wrong. In this case, he isnt wrong.

    Except, as you point out, he is wholly inconsistent. dunphy is (allegedly) fine with people eating, smoking, and shooting up what they like, but he says that because driving is a 'privilege', forcing people to wear seat belts is just okey-dokey. That's nonsense. The reason dunphy likes the seat belt law is because it gives him pretense to pull people over and generally ruin their day.

  • ||

    See my comment below. I reread the comments and changed my mind making that very point.

  • sarcasmic||

    I once overheard a state trooper gleefully describe his job as "ruining people's day".

  • ||

    Pi Guy, what kind of non-white people do they have where you're at that sport ponytails?

  • Pi Guy||

    LOL, sorry. That is a little ambiguous.

    I live in a rural, still mostly religious town in north central MD. I only meant to imply that I looked very out-of-place and believe that that was the only pretext for stoping me.

  • ||

    I figured, but was holding out hope for some be-ponytailed dirty hippie-style, say, Koreans or something.

  • sarcasmic||

    After cutting my hair, and trading my concert t-shirts and jeans for button up shirts and slacks, the cops quit giving me shit.

    My behavior didn't change, only my appearance.

    Anyone (yeah Dunphy, I mean you) who says cops don't make a habit of harassing people simply because of their appearance, not because they actually did anything, is full of shit.

    Be it a black person in a white neighborhood (probably selling drugs, right?), a white person in a black neighborhood (probably buying drugs, right?), person has long hair (probably carrying drugs, right?), looks poor (can't afford a lawyer, let's fuck with 'em for fun, right?) they're going to harass you for your looks.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I used to have hair to my armpits, and I dealt with cops a lot more back then. I was lucky enough to grow up in a city with a lot of rich people, meaning that the cops there didn't know if they were dealing with someone who had pull (or was related to someone who had pull). Polite cops in that city. Of course, it also helps that they didn't deal with tons of violent crime, either, even in the 80's.

    Now I have very short hair, and look very average. I drive an older model vehicle that's a little worn, but not enough to attract attention. Monty Python was right about the value of not being seen.

  • ||

    Ooops. I missed this bit. Dunphy is wrong.

    "legalize heroin? fine with me.

    but eliminate seatbelt laws? not fine with me"

    Dunphy, what is the difference between one action of the state to protect people from themselves and another? Why say that the state should do so regarding one behavior and not another? Heroin addicts destroy themselves and end up costing society heavily, just as seat belt shirkers do.

    The only difference I see is that the damage to our liberty is greater in one case (war on drugs) than in the other. Why not instead argue that any assault on personal liberty is egregious?

  • ||

    Jacob, I feel you on the extreme sketchiness of foreign cops. They're even scarier than US cops, and corrupt in ways you may not anticipate as a foreigner. (Is the cop signalling that he'd like you to bribe him to leave you alone? Is this even a real cop? These are questions I don't want to have to answer.) It is even more imperative than usual to avoid all interaction with them, and unfortunately if driving is unavoidable you're risking cop exposure.

  • AlgerHiss||

    This “driving is a privilege” thing needs turned on its head. Driving is not a privilege, it’s a right.

    A great group that is truly the motoring publics’ best friend is The National Motorists Association. They are far more valuable than the old AAA. (Over time, AAA morphed into nothing more than an insurance company.) Their site is:

    http://www.motorists.org/

  • ||

    Driving is not a privilege, it’s a right.

    Please elaborate. Let's set aside the question of the legitimacy of state ownership of property for a moment. If we consider the state as a proxy for a private owner of roads then the state has the right and authority to set restrictions on the use of it's property - reasonable or not. Violation of those restrictions would in effect be criminal trespass. Driving on someone else's property in ways that violate their stated requirements is not a right. How is this different?

  • Joe R.||

    Let's set aside the question of the legitimacy of state ownership of property for a moment.

    But you can't really do that, because it's the core of the argument. And the answer to the question "How is this different?" is "The government has asserted a monopoly on both roads and the use of force."

    Based on your logic, the government can do anything it wants on the roadways--including search your car without warrant or permission, seize your property without due process, track your location and movement, etc.

    If the government declared itself owner of all food, would it then be OK for the government to tell you what to eat, and penalize you when you failed to comply?

  • ||

    So a private land owner could not track your location and movement if you were on their land? If it were a condition of their permission to allow you on the land?

    The same logic would apply to search and seizure - prior permission for unannounced search and seizure would be required in order for the state to authorize you to use their roads.

    Boy, state ownership of land really confuses things doesn't it? Good thing the folks writing the laws don't care much about antiquated concepts like "right" and "wrong".

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    In Texas, by contrast, adults are free to travel unrestrained in the back seat.

    No, they aren't.

  • Dr. K.||

    Mores specifically, "not anymore they're not."

    The law changed this year. See 545.413.a.1.B:
    http://www.dps.texas.gov/direc.....afetyBelts

  • some guy||

    One answer is that the broken tail light poses a potential hazard to others, while the unbuckled seat belt does not.

    Your body, hurtling through the air at 55mph would pose a potential hazard to others. Everything poses a potential hazard to others. So everything should be regulated.

    \statist

  • Mr. FIFY||

    If the Safety Mongers were really, truly concerned, they would push for:

    - speed-governors on every vehicle
    - a national highway speed limit of 45 MPH
    - full roll cages, NASCAR-style harnesses (what's this shit about having only ONE shoulder belt?), extinguisher systems, and all drivers would be required to wear flame-retardant clothing and racing helmets when they drive to the store)
    - MOAR CHECKPOINTS (you never know when anyone might go rogue on the roads)
    - shoot-to-kill orders to deal with anyone who warns about speed traps
    - GPS monitoring of every vehicle so Big Sis knows where we're driving, at all times

    But I guess some people just don't care that much about road safety.

  • sarcasmic||

    Give it time.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    I don't give it much time, sarc. Shithammer's coming down soon, and the Teams are itching to put the boot to our freedoms.

  • sarcasmic||

    What freedoms? Seriously.
    You can't engage in commerce without asking permission, you can't travel without being subject to random harassment and searches, you can't use your own property without asking permission, you can't decide what to ingest into your own body without risking prison...

    You can express yourself politically without risking prison (for now), but that's about it.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    I know; I'm being incredibly generous this morning.

  • R C Dean||

    What freedoms?

    Well, you are still free to get an abortion.

    Other than that, I'm drawing a blank.

  • sarcasmic||

    Well, you are still free to get make someone else pay for an abortion.

    ftfy

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Abortion, and being gay.

    Otherwise, there's a law against it, more than likely.

  • Shirley Knott||

    What I always find funny about these arguments are two points:
    First, many states passed their 'seatbelt required' laws accompanied by explicit promises to 'never' make seatbelt use a primary enforcement item. Proving once again just what promises from a politician are worth. But why do we let them forget?
    Second, not too long after Michigan went primary enforcement on seat belts, a news team in Detroit spent several days evaluating seat belt use by drivers -- by observation, while driving (i.e., same method the police used in their ridiculous 'click it or ticket' campaign'). Guess who the largest group of violators were, cops or "ordinary citizens"? Cops, of course.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    They need to be able to exit the car quickly.

    In case there is a dog near the road.

  • Mr. Soul||

    If I wasn't so lazy, I'd make/sell "Click it or Flick it" bumperstickers complete with a pic of a hand flicking the bird. To paraphrase Jackie Chiles, this is aggregious, Outrageous, Perposterous.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Oh, shit. That's just giving a cop permission to yank you out of the window - fuck "opening the door first" - and beating the shit out of you.

    AND shooting your dog. Of course, if your dog is at home, he'll just have to wait a while after he gets your address from your wallet while you "nap" on the street.

    But he's doing it "for the children", ultimately.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    This is the second time in a week I've heard someone say "flicking" someone off when they mean "flipping". It is also the second time in my life.

  • some guy||

    You "flip" the bird, but you "flick" someone off.

  • Rich||

    the cop's avowed concern was that our kids were bouncing around in the back seat, ready to fly through the windshield in the event of a collision.

    Serious question: Why are "seat belts" not required for animals? (Sorry if I'm "giving them ideas".) Maybe Romney was doing the right thing with his dog. ;-)

  • sarcasmic||

    Depends on what state you're in.

  • Rich||

    I see that NJ is one.

  • Rich||

    the cop's avowed concern was that our kids were bouncing around in the back seat, ready to fly through the windshield in the event of a collision.

    Here's another: Why not ban hand-held objects (like cell phones and tablets) that could become lethal missiles?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    But that might prevent Michael Moore from eating his 20-piece McNuggets on his way to get another 20-piece McNuggets, thus depriving him of his right to eat them while he's driving.

    Why do you hate the children?

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Jesus fuckling AntiChrist, Derpfy - fuck off already. This is when everyone hates you - when you drone on and on and on sucking state-power cock.

    We know you're a cop. And love power.

    Now shut the fuck up. Thanks.

  • John||

    Making seat belt violations a moving violations is just giving cops the right to profile and pull over anyone they want. Any stop is then justified because all the cop has to say is "I didn't think he was wearing his seat belt".

  • sarcasmic||

    Cops never abuse their power.
    That's just a meme created by Reason and other anti-cop bigots who seek to tarnish the honorable profession of law enforcement.
    These abuses that you see are statistical outliers. They're irrelevant aberrations.
    Cops don't cover for each other. They turn each other in. All the time.
    There's no blue wall of silence. All cops are completely honest, and the supervisors are as well.

    Dunphy told me so.

  • Rich||

    I'm thinking of setting up a company to sell Sam Browne belts. Anybody want in on the ground floor?

  • GILMORE||

    You got DWL'd!

    Driving while libertarian. I'm surprised he didn't do an on-site blood test to see if yours boiled *indignantly*, proving your inherent irrational anti-authoritarianism. Don't you know they're *protecting* you, Jacob? FOR SHAME!

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Thanks to fucktards like the SPLC, displaying libertarian-flavored signage is grounds to put you on Fatherland Security shit-lists:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/1329.....t-20Feb09-

  • sarcasmic||

    I wonder how many people have been pulled over for having a Ron Paul sticker on their car by cops looking for an easy pot bust.

    I never put one on my car because I figured it would draw unwanted attention.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Or worse... flash-back to the discussion the other day about the DEA scanning license plates, then sharing that info with TSA , FBI and DHS.

    Wouldn't be much harder to include any bumpersticker content along with that license plate. Build dossiers on "domestic terrorists" who display Gadsen flags or non-Red/Blue support.

    Hell, even "I homeschool my child" could be grounds for a manila folder in some LEO's shit-list file drawer.

  • sarcasmic||

    Wouldn't be much harder to include any bumpersticker content along with that license plate.

    You'd be surprised. It's much easier to write software that recognizes blocked alphanumeric stamped onto a metal plate and covered in reflective paint than to recognize what's on a bumper sticker.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Cameras aren't that expensive, sarc. Besides, in the War on Terrorism, no price is too high.

  • sarcasmic||

    I'm talking about software automating the process reading what the camera registers and logging it in a database without the aid of a human.
    For a license plate that's not too difficult. Bumper stickers are something else entirely.
    There is a reason websites give you a funky picture with words and numbers in it to verify that you're not a bot.
    Writing software to recognize variations of the Gadsen flag or other symbols on bumper stickers is more of a stretch than you may realize.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    1. Snap a pic of the rear of the car.

    2. Upload image to goons at DHS.

    3. Verify ID by license-plate number and build folder for domestic-terrorist list.

    Shit, dude, there is facial-recognition software in use. Never put anything past those fuckers who view every human as a potential criminal.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Sorry, forgot the ????? and "Profit!" tags, in keeping with the Underpants Gnomes theme.

  • some guy||

    Do you really expect a government worker bee to go through all that trouble? When he won't even be the one kicking your door in? Don't bet on it.

  • Metazoan||

    Even for a license plate it's still pretty sophisticated, but yes, definitely.

  • Metazoan||

    If you're curious as to how that works, there's an open source project called javaANPR that was someone's (master's?) thesis. It can read license plates, and comes with the dissertation and source code.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Sure, a human would eventually have to look at the images, but how do you think the "fusion centers" gather intel on third-party outliers?

  • Metazoan||

    This is true, but while it would be easy to spot on, say, I-81 in rural PA, imagine the challenge on I-95 near New York City at 8:30 AM... you need ultra-high throughput scanning. Oh well, moar [JOBZ] I guess.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    You can't professionalize unless you federalize!

  • perlhaqr||

    Outsource it to get blog readers to be doing your decipherment for you through captchas.

  • R C Dean||

    Two standard issue police state sentiments on display above:

    traffic enforcement works to decrease the danger,

    Assuming this is true, what are we to make of it? That there is no limit to the laws and enforcement activities on traffic? That traffic enforcement is never abused? That there is no trade-off between safety and liberty worth caring about?

    i consider that driving is a privilege not a right,

    Why? Is every form of travel a privilege? Wouldn't that make travel itself a privilege? If only driving is a privilege, what distinguished it from other forms of travel?

    By definition, a privilege is something that the state can grant or revoke at its sole discretion. Do we really think the state should claim the authority to just . . . ban the use of cars?

  • Metazoan||

    This is a good point. The roads were built with taxpayer money and driver taxes and tolls. The right to use them cannot be legitimately revoked to those (that's us) who have paid for them.

  • ||

    A theater owner can throw you out of a theater for breaking the rules even after you paid for the ticket.

  • Metazoan||

    The difference is that I don't own the movie theater. I am a partial owner of the roads.

  • ||

    I own stock in Wal-mart. Do you mean they can't throw me out of there for being a nuisance?

  • some guy||

    You have a choice in whether you own stock in Walmart. You don't have a choice in whether you own part of the roads. (Unless you're a worthless lay-about).

  • R C Dean||

    A theater owner can throw you out of a theater for breaking the rules even after you paid for the ticket.

    This analogy begs the question. No one is saying you have a legal right to be in the theater; a theater ticket is and always has been legally recognized as the grant of a privilege (if memory serves, it is technically a license).

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    The way it was once explained to me: The right you have to travel is simply to move -- under your own power. If you use another means -- horse, ox, motor vehicle, skate board, bicycle, Segway, etc. -- then you potentially endanger others on the road, or roadside property. The government has an interest in making sure that you can use your "enhanced means of travel" responsibly, as well as an authority to remove you from the road and/or punish you if you proceed irresponsibly or cause injury or damage.

    Now, if you engage someone else to convey you from A to B, you have the right to travel, as well as the rights to associate and contract. But the person doing the transporting is similarly regulated by government, not just in terms of being safe on the roads, but also in terms of running a business.

    I invite my fellow libertarians here to take a run at these arguments. They seem to persuade a great many who do not consider themselves to be libertarian.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    In summary: You have a right to travel, but only a privilege to employ "enhanced means" of travel. The privilege is either granted by government (in the case that you drive yourself), or granted by the other person who transports you.

  • Scooby||

    In Texas, by contrast, adults are free to travel unrestrained in the back seat.

    The law in Texas changed in 2009. Now all passengers, adults included, are required to use seat belts.

    Also, your Texas DL isn't evidence that you are a US citizen, only that you are a Texas resident (and not necessarily a legal resident, at that). When the Isreali po-po confirmed that you entered on June 8, they might just have confirmed that you entered on a US passport.

    Texas's seat belt law allows for primary enforcement, so you should be used to it by now. It's silly and nannyish- one of many things I throw in the face of "small government Republicans" in this state- but it's the way things are here.

  • R C Dean||

    Dunno about the rest of you, but when I'm out of the country, I don't go anywhere without my passport.

  • Robert||

    Does bar mitzva Hebrew get you by in modern Hebrew conversation? Is it the type of Hebrew that'd come off as crappy?

  • blackjack||

    I grew up in pre-Rodney King Los Angeles. I have been the subject of extreme traffic enforcement abuse throughout the eighties and nineties. Driving hot-rods and Harleys in LA during the eighties was DANGEROUS! Cops will always make their own rules and the brass will always enable them.
    Recently I was illegally searched by a local smallish dept that's being investigated by the FBI. I filed a complaint and now I regularly get calls from lawyers asking me to testify as to the lying nature of the specific cop. ALWAYS complain in writing when you encounter bad cops. It goes in their record and haunts them forever. I was interviewed by the FBI, had a laughable debate with the local Lt. about the constitution which took about 3 hours and was eventually found to have been in possession of the smell of pot (despite being completely abstinent since the age of 16) and therefore subject to search, despite lack of consent. It was a blatant lie (one of many made by both the cop and the brass.) I was not charged and have no record (other than 100 or so traffic busts 10 years ago), so I am the perfect witness. Please everybody, fight back against traffic nazis.

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