Monday, April 06, 2009

Finally, Something That George Bush Did Right

By running our economy into the ground, he inadvertently reduced traffic fatalities.
Less money in the pockets of Americans means fewer highway deaths. As the economy slid deeper into recession and gas prices reached $4 a gallon last year, the number of people killed in auto accidents hit its lowest level in five decades.
Preliminary government figures show that 37,313 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes last year, which is 9.1 percent lower than the year before, and the fewest since 1961, when there were 36,285 deaths. Final numbers are expected later this year.

Experts also "cited record-high seat-belt use, tighter enforcement of drunken driving laws and the work of advocacy groups that encourage safer driving habits." That's amazing considering that Bush repeatedly cut funding for law enforcement, so maybe I should reconsider giving him any credit.

Nationally, seat belt use climbed to a record 83 percent last year. Michigan had the highest compliance rate in the country with 97.2 percent and Massachusetts had the lowest rate at 66.8 percent.

Enforcing tougher seat belt laws through programs like "Click It or Ticket" isn't popular with everyone though. Some wingnuts believe that requiring one to wear a seat belt against their will is a violation of their civil rights.
In a free society, each person owns himself. As such he has the broad discretion to make his own choices regardless of what others think of the wisdom of his choices. He has the right to take chances with his own health and safety.
And society ends up paying for that person's expenses when he sustains a closed-head injury and spends the next 20 years in a nursing home. The next thing you know, people will be advocating that we eliminate traffic signals and stop signs too. Sigh...


abi said...

Interestingly, the only state that has no seat belt law is the "Live Free or Die" state - New Hampshire.

I'm surprised that Massachusetts has such a low compliance rate, altho about 20 years ago, there was a major battle here over our mandatory seat belt law. I guess feelings still run high here over it. Or maybe we're just too close to NH. ;-)

Kathy said...

Abi, so you noticed Mass's low compliance rate, eh? I was surprised about that myself since I consider Mass a pretty progressive state.

I have to admit though that I wasn't too keen on seat belts when then first came out because they wrinkled my clothes and made me feel confined. Now? It's automatic and I don't give it a second thought.