A push is on in Mississippi to make driving without a seatbelt a primary traffic offense.
As it stands now, the state’s seatbelt law only affects drivers stopped for other reasons, such as speeding. Changing the law would allow law officers to stop and ticket drivers for simply not wearing a seatbelt.
Statistics indicate that about half of Mississippi drivers don’t buckle up. Authorities suggest that fewer lives would be lost if everyone used a seatbelt.
We suggest that fewer lives would be lost if everyone drove the speed limit. Perhaps didn’t talk on a cell phone, read a newspaper, apply makeup, fiddle with the radio, discipline the children, look at a map or munch on a biscuit — while driving.
Government can only do so much to protect us from ourselves. Saving lives is important, but we should not encourage the further erosion of personal responsibility in our society with yet another intrusive mandate from the Legislature.
There is a role for government in driving safety, but the passage and enforcement of a new seatbelt law offers little more than politicians a photo op and governments a new revenue source.
If we really want to save lives on our roads, Mississippi must invest in adequate training and support of law enforcement agencies and proper maintenance of city streets, county roads, state highways and the interstates.
Should Mississippi drivers buckle up? Yes. Certainly. But they have to do it themselves.