STAFF EDITORIAL: Traffic law reinforces common sense, safety

The 81st Texas Legislature made great strides for public safety by passing HB 537, a law that goes into effect today.

For those who don’t know, HB 537 requires all people to wear a seatbelt regardless of age or where they sit.

The legislation also prohibits motorcycle operators from carrying a passenger who is under 5 years old unless the child sits in a sidecar attached to the motorcycle.

Fines for those who break this law are not unreasonable, usually ranging between $100 and $250 according to the Houston Chronicle. These fines are enough to keep most passengers and drivers from ignoring the rules.

We commend the Texas Legislature for passing a law that will save lives. The people who do not enjoy wearing seatbelts don’t have to buckle up, but now they will lose money for putting themselves in danger. Meanwhile, parents who drive motorcycles will think twice about placing their 4-year-old in a hazardous situation.

Even skilled motorcyclists cannot avoid wrecks, because it takes only one bad driver to cause an accident. Even those who have never been in a collision will eventually make a mistake or run into another reckless driver.

These laws exist because most people do not have enough common sense to keep themselves and others from peril. We would all love to have the freedom to not be told what to do, but sometimes we need rules that protect us from our own ignorance.

If enough people accepted that seatbelts are objects of protection and not restraint, we wouldn’t need to be threatened with fines. If enough motorcyclists did not ride with small children, they would not need a law that forces them to protect their children.

The amount of time needed to put on a seatbelt is minimal, but thousands of Texans still refuse to do this. There is no reason for people to avoid protecting themselves, especially in Houston, where a large number of wrecks occur every day.

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