For the 2nd time in about three weeks, the state police were camped out on an exit of I-290 West here in the Chicago suburbs pulling people over for seat belt violations. The exit dumps out onto a divided highway (with a 45mph speed limit, that usually sees traffic flow at 55mph+ so they also like to run speed traps) so it is a busy, twisting exit from the highway.
As they did a few weeks ago, they had a spotter on the shoulder of the exit to merge back onto the highway going west to radio ahead to the troopers on the shoulder of our exit coming off the highway. There were a few people pulled over this morning and several troopers standing there, hands on their hips, with menacing expressions scrutinizing us all as we paraded past.
What a bunch of complete crap. Of course everyone in front of me was slowing down, so traffic is getting snarled because of this "bust". We have a group of highly talented (hopefully), highly paid (I'm sure), Illinois State Troopers playing nanny for all of us evil drivers who don't know any better to put our seat belts on? What's next, are they going to start pulling us over if our mirrors aren't adjusted to their liking? Nevermind the fact that while these police sit there and write tickets, our roads are now that much more open to people running drugs on the highway. Also the nitwits I see daily on my commute with one or none out of three brake lights working are continuing to drive around unchecked, and people who are being hit by this inconvenience charge are opening their wallets to governmental power run rampant.
Some simply say in that smug, self-satisfied way, "Well, you won't have anything to worry about if you just put on your seatbelt". I agree that seatbelts are a good thing and increase my safety should an accident occur. But should the government enforce everyone wearing them? Shouldn't I be able to decide what's best for me and my family? The answer to that is a resounding "yes", leading me to pose this question. Should the government enforce the common-sense initiative to put on a coat when it's cold outside? No, of course not! Well, what if you're not wearing a coat while driving and it's 5 degrees out? Isn't it possible that your driving could be impaired while you sit and shiver? Well, yes you say, but anyone can admit that such a notion is silly. Downright laughable. Well, I'm sure that the notion of being pulled over, issued a ticket with a fine due to the state, and possibly being assessed points on your driving license was downright laughable and silly twenty years ago. Yet here it is, 2004, and this is happening in the majority of the 50 states. And the driving public will continue to take this abuse of police power.
I have some news for you if you're reading this. It won't stop here. I don't want to be an I-told-you-so, and if anything I hope I'm proved wrong. But when seat-belt compliance falls into the 95% range because people don't want to get pulled over and issued a ticket, another government, "show me your papers" intrusive stop measure will be introduced. Why? Well, lost revenue of course! If we're all wearing our seat belts, there won't be anyone to pull over and write a ticket to! The government agencies will have to dream up the next threat to all of our well beings and pass a law outlawing it. Then we'll repeat this whole process over and over, until we have no freedoms left. Including wiping our own asses.
The next primary enforcement measure that I see coming? (primary enforcement means the police can pull you over for violating that law only) Cell phone usage will driving. And after that, the distractions while driving will mount including listening to the radio.
You think I'm kidding? Stay tuned.