Singing Loudly: Seat Belts and the issue of privacy

Singing Loudly

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Seat Belts and the issue of privacy

I wonder whether this recent push towards enforcing the use of seat belts might ultimately end up in invasions in privacy.

This week we see that Indiana is another state that is soon to add mandatory seat belt use requirements to driving. There are debates about school buses requiring seat belts. This is not just in Boston, MA but in cities and states around the nation. North Carolina is pulling over drives who don't appear to be buckled up.

This is an issue that I'm conflicted over. On the one hand it is a personal choice that one should be able to make. There aren't laws against climbing ladders that aren't sturdy. There aren't laws about plugging in electronics near water. There are all sorts of things we do that aren't exactly safe but it is our choice. On the other hand, when you're injured in a car accident the burden for health care costs is spread over everyone. Furthermore, when it comes to buckling in children there is the other issue of whether or not a parent should be able to put his or her child at extra risk.

What I wonder goes a little further. With all of this legislation, how far are we from our vehicles alerting police when we are or aren't wearing our seat belts? The cars already have sensors that alert you when your belt is unbuckled. It would take nothing more than a RF radio transmittor (much like a toll tag device) to transmit when you aren't buckled in. According to constitutional criminal law, if it only alerted police that you were not wearing a seat belt it wouldn't be an illegal requirement from states legislatures. You have no privacy interest in illegal activity.

I wonder how far off we are from this requirement?


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