632: Helmets

A Thousand Things to Talk About
A Thousand Things to Talk About
632: Helmets

Do you think helmet and seatbelt laws should be implemented / enforced?

Full episode script

The research is clear — helmet laws and seatbelt laws are shown, time and time again, to save lives. In various states of the United States and in countries around the world,, when a seatbelt or helmet law is implemented and enforced, the number of fatalities go down. They go down quite dramatically, in fact.


But the fact that fatalities go down isn’t enough, for many, to feel like these laws are worth it. There’s an argument that government shouldn’t have any part in or say in what people do on their own vehicles or in their own lives.


The argument has been made in multiple states of the United States, sometimes on the argument that seat belt laws violate a right to privacy. Others have made the argument that there’s “involuntary servitude” enforced by these laws.


Every time the laws have been tested in state court, they are found to be constitutional. The two biggest cases usually cited are Kohrig and Hartog. Quoting from a research report by Connecticut state government:

Both decisions accept the argument that the legislature has a rational and reasonable basis to believe that unbelted drivers and passengers endanger the safety of others, not just themselves. For example, unrestrained drivers may be more likely to lose control of the vehicle during the accident and injure other parties. Unrestrained passengers may be thrown against the driver or others in the vehicle. In Kohrig and Hartog, the courts echoed similar decisions in other cases to the effect that preventing and reducing injuries and the societal costs associated with them are valid state interests and thus a valid exercise of the state’s police power.

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.