By John Maki
February 11, 2006
Mr. Holm states the new law is to "avoid costing the government and insurance companies' money." Excuse me, but who exactly is paying for government and who gets socked with higher and higher auto and health insurance premiums?
Ask any member of the local fire departments or any emergency room physician whether the use of seat belts aggravate or mitigate the extent of injuries in most auto crashes. Having your vehicle suddenly go from 30 miles an hour to zero in a matter of a second is the equivalent of a fall from a 3 story building. Being thrown from a car in a crash is four times as deadly as a person remaining inside the vehicle. Sixty-four percent of Closed Head Injuries result from auto crashes and just treating that injury alone costs Americans an estimated $60,000,000,000 a year. (We Americans take large numbers for granted....if someone started giving you 60 billion at a dollar a second without stopping, to completely pay you off would take 1,902 years).
I applaud Mr. Holm for his personal choice to wear seat belts and requiring his passengers to. But it is not for Mr. Holm that laws are written. Laws are mostly written for people who are unable to put up their own personal stop signs to make good decisions and need government to. Most folks don't require a law against theft to keep them from stealing but to try to keep others from stealing from them. (It is unfortunate that we will always have amongst us those who follow the law only because of the fear they will be caught and punished.)
Forty-five million Americans don't have health insurance. If KGH gets a patient and the bill is not paid by them, or by the patient's family, the cost is passed on to you and me in the form of higher medical costs because we get to share in the cost of their treatment. Because health costs increase, my health premiums increase, and if some government program pays for treatment, I am paying for that, too. Premiums for employee-sponsored health insurance in the United States have been rising five times faster on average than workers' earnings since 2000. According to the National Coalition on Heath Care, health insurance premiums will rise to an average of more than $14,500 for family coverage for 2006.
When a driver or passenger has his or her injuries in an auto crash aggravated because they exercised "their freedom" not to buckle up, I indirectly become their victim. I encourage the Troopers and KPD officers to aggressively enforce this law because seat belt usage does save lives and mitigate injuries. Selfishly, I would like the freedom to either save the money I earn or to spend it on the things I want, not on additional taxes or government programs or higher insurance premium costs where I have no choice.
About: John Maki is a resident of Ketchikan. He is the Deputy Chief of the Ketchikan Police Department.
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