Trooper Stephen Hammons, Public Information Officer for State Police Troop I visited with me on the 'Afternoon Drive Home' today and we discussed seat belt use and unintended consequences.

In a recent opinion piece I advocated raising the fine for those who neglect to buckle up or don't insure that passengers are buckled up.  I suggested stiffer fines might be called for and asked what the current fine was and Hammons said,

First offense by statute is a $25 fine and second offense fine is a $50 fine and it goes on from there...Fines are determined by the legislative process and our job is to make sure that we enforce laws on the books...We are only a small part of the process.

My views on seat belt use brought comments from KPEL NewsJunkies suggested that we have a right to drive or ride without being restrained if we so desire. Asking Trooper Hammons if there were unintended consequences that should be considered he replied,

Newton's First Law of Motion, an object in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. If that seat belt is not your outside force something else will be and it could potentially be other passengers in the car...We certainly have seen it before where an other person is that outside force causing even more severe injuries to someone else.

You always have to be prepared to get into a crash and the best way to prepare is to be wearing that seat belt.

I noted that the 'right' to drive or ride without a seat belt could have long term consequences and according to Trooper Hammons,

It doesn't get reported as often but people who survive the crash may now have some type of debilitating injury which confines them to a wheelchair or hospital bed. Certainly those are factors that everybody needs to be aware of...You always have to be prepared to get into a crash and the best way to prepare is to be wearing that seat belt.

You can listen to the entire interview to hear more by clicking the blue arrow below: