Aaaaaand they're off!

Once again around 170 police departments across New Jersey, many of them shore towns, are looking for seat belt violators and are partaking in over $800,000 of grants to get 'er done. Last year's haul brought in close to 18,000 tickets. At $46 per ticket that surpasses the grant money. In addition to seat belt tickets there were also 2,594 cell phone tickets, 6,363 speeding tickets, 153 for drugs, 498 for child restraint violations, and 823 for DWIs. So clearly this is a cash cow and a way to really check out what someone has going on inside their car.

Now I always wear my seat belt. Not because of the laws of the state of New Jersey but because of the laws of physics. It is a proven fact that in the majority of crashes wearing a seat belt saves far more lives than it lays to waste. Since 94% of drivers in NJ already comply with seat belt laws that's obvious to most of us. Yet there will always be some who, possibly due to a personal anecdote or something they've witnessed, always feel in their gut wearing a seat belt could trap them in their car or somehow kill them. In that it has happened, they're not wrong. It's just the overwhelming odds are that a seat belt will save a life, not take one.

My uncle was one of these people. He sometimes wore a belt and sometimes not. One day, on one of his 'not' days, he was driving a car when a tractor trailer stopped suddenly in front of him. He must have been speeding or not paying attention, but whatever it was my uncle could not stop in time and he knew his car was going to go underneath the back of the trailer. He had the presence of mind to throw himself down across the seat just as the top of his car was sheared off on impact. Had he worn his seat belt he would have been decapitated. After that, so freaked out by what occurred, he never wore a seat belt again.

If 94% of drivers are already wearing seat belts, is the Click It or Ticket campaign really about safety? Do the authorities really believe they will ever achieve 100% compliance? They will tell you they believe it, but they don't. They're smarter than that. This is really about fundraising, especially when the traffic stop will begin with a seat belt violation but lead to so many more lucrative tickets or arrests (see numbers earlier).

Seat belt laws are also primarily about protecting one from oneself. It's your decision to go rogue and not wear one, and it's your life you're risking. The best argument one can make is it's unfair for insurance or charity care to pay for injuries sustained unnecessarily. It also seems disingenuous to have laws mandating seat belt use when riding on a motorcycle with no protection around you whatsoever is perfectly legal.

So I've never been a fan of seat belt laws, but I'm a huge fan of seat belts. Do you think the Click It or Ticket campaign is really about safety? Take our poll below.

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