As another Click It or Ticket crackdown gets underway, it's time we remembered the history of seat belt laws in NJ. It was not mandatory to wear a seat belt until 32 years ago. It was in March of 1985 that it became law for drivers and front seat passengers to buckle up. Before the law, only 18% wore a seat belt. That's shocking when you consider our compliance rate today stands at 93%. So why on earth would I suggest seat belt laws shouldn't exist?

Freedom to be stupid.

We embrace the freedom to be stupid every day in America. You are free to legally buy cigarettes and slowly kill yourself. You're free to operate a motorcycle with no metal protecting you and of course no seat belt. You're free to drink daily if you choose and free to have terrible eating habits. If seat belt laws are in the name of protecting a driver from themselves, then that's a nanny state and hypocritical considering all that I just mentioned.

The only other solid argument is to protect society from the medical cost of treating those too dumb to wear one. Valid, until you again start comparing it to things like smoking, drinking, poor diet, motorcycles, dangerous hobbies, etc.. If we want to focus on the cost to society of treating the sick and injured, why aren't we outlawing cigarettes when they kill far more people every year than car accidents? (440,000 to 40,200) Why are people allowed to drink themselves to death? Why are people allowed to do any of the dangerous things they do?

So why do we really have seat belt laws? If it's not safety, if it's not cost to society, there's only one answer left.

Money. It's an easy ticket to write. And it brings in a lot of cash for towns. Last year more than 26,000 tickets were written for seatbelt violations. At $46 per ticket, that's an almost $1.2 million revenue stream.

I always wear a seat belt. But I wear it because of the laws of physics not because of the laws of New Jersey. I wear it because I don't want to die. For New Jersey to tell adults to protect themselves in cars while at the same time reaping the tax money from cigarettes that kill far more is farcical. Seat belt laws for minors are different. You're not yet an adult and not fully responsible for your decisions. However seat belt laws for those over 18 should go away, and so should all those tickets.

Sign up for the Newsletter

Get the best of delivered to your inbox every day.