Just less than two weeks ago, we broke the news that Democratic State Senator Erin Oban joined five Republicans in proposing changes to make North Dakota’s seat belt law more restrictive. Senate Bill 2060 proposes changing the state’s current law — which applies to “a motor vehicle designed for carrying fewer than eleven passengers” — from mandating that “front seat” occupants wear their seat belts to “every occupant”. And in addition to this, it would change the law from secondary enforcement to primary enforcement. If the bill becomes law, violations would result in a $50 fine to the driver the vehicle.
The bill’s primary sponsor, Senator Curt Kreun (R – District 42) told Prairie Public yesterday that his father was a Minnesota state trooper and that during his 23-year career he had “never unbuckled a dead person”. What’s interesting about this is that the Bismarck Tribune reported earlier today that:
“Of the state’s 91 motor vehicle fatalities in which seat belts were available in 2017, 55 percent were unbelted, according to a North Dakota Department of Transportation report.”
That means that 45% of the 2017 fatalities were buckled. These numbers seem to differ considerably from the experience of Senator Kreun’s father. But I digress.
As we explained in our previous article, states with more restrictive seat belt laws and higher rates of buckling up don’t necessarily have lower motor vehicle death rates. But aside from that, it’s just not the proper role of government dictate these things to the citizenry. As one author expressed it:
“Seat belt laws are an unwarranted intrusion by government into the personal lives of citizens; they deny through prior restraint the right to determine a person’s own individual personal health care standards for his own body, the ultimate private property.”
The Senate Transportation Committee is set to have a hearing on SB 2060 Friday morning at 11am in the Lewis & Clark Room. If you believe, like we do, that we don’t need the government to protect us from ourselves, then we’d encourage you to attend. If you cannot attend the committee hearing, we’d encourage you to make your voice heard by contacting the members of the Senate Transportation Committee and ask them to give this bill a Do Not Pass recommendation. You can find their contact information here.
(Note: The law in relation to those under the age of 18 can be found here.)