Buckle up, Alabama

Alabama’s annual “Click It Or Ticket” campaign is underway until June 4, and law enforcement officers – who are empowered to stop unrestrained drivers using seat belt law as a primary offense – are looking for those who haven’t buckled up. It’s likely they’ll be able to write tickets to their hearts’ content.

There will always be those who swim against the tide of conventional wisdom, and some folks argue that a governmental mandate to wear a seat belt violates their personal liberty. The choice to wear a seat belt or not should be theirs, they say. Violating that law puts no one in harm’s way but the person making that choice.

While that argument has some validity, the question, at this point, is moot. Alabama mandates the use of restraints in most motor vehicles, and imposes an array of punishments for violation of that mandate.

And, at the risk of sounding like an overbearing authority figure, it’s for your own good.

According to the CDC, the use of seat belts reduces the chance of serious injury or death in a crash by half. Statistics suggest that seat belts saved 12,802 lives in 2014, and show that air bags provide added protection but are not a substitute for seat belts.

With regard to children, the older they get the less likely they are to be restrained – 43 percent of 8 to 12-year-olds were found to be unrestrained. And when adults in the vehicle aren’t buckled up, about 40 percent of the youngsters riding with them aren’t buckled up, either.

Alabama does surprisingly well in seat belt compliance, with an estimated 90 percent of motorists using their restraints consistently, so we may be preaching to the choir.

For those who aren’t singing, take heed. It may save a few bucks. Or even your life.

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