Commentary: Seatbelt law needs toughening

This editorial appeared in The Idaho Statesman.

Many Idahoans stubbornly cling to the notion that their decision to use a seat belt is simply a matter of personal freedom.

And we do mean "stubbornly." The facts demonstrate that seat-belt use is not strictly a personal decision; taxpayers have a stake as well.

The state of Idaho spends $9 million a year on health care costs, treating injuries that could have been prevented with seat belt use, says Dr. Beth Ebel, director of Seattle's Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center. "Idaho taxpayers subsidize those individuals who choose not to wear their seat belts despite the state law."

What a waste of money.

Part of the problem is a state law which is more a joke than a deterrent, since it carries a measly $10 fine. The Idaho Transportation Department wants to bring this law more in line with the $51.50 fine levied against teen drivers who break the seat-belt law. It's a good idea, and it's about time.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Idaho Statesman.