From the December 2000 Idaho Observer:

How “passive” are passive restraints laws?

Just like everything else our state and federal governments fine us for not doing these days, it appears there is not one shred of evidence to prove that seatbelts save lives. Are “they” actually trying to protect us or are they just using any excuse that can be passed as a law to extract revenue?

By William Holdorf


1. While the use of a seat belt might save some people in certain kinds of traffic accidents, there is ample proof that in other kinds, some people have been more seriously injured or killed only because of seat belt use. Seat belt law supporters do not fully and publicly document such cases as they do for persons they claim were saved by the belt, and the lack of such facts greatly exaggerates the so-called benefit of such laws.

Such bias misleads the public into thinking that seatbelt use automatically means safety and non-use automatically means death in all kinds of accidents, which is not true. Also, in spite of the fact the government is forcing the use of a device that can be injurious and even lethal in certain situations, the government refuses to be held financially responsible. Instead, the government expects the injured or survivors of those killed to obtain financial satisfaction from their savings, or insurance, or by suing the auto makers.

2. There is also ample proof that in certain kinds of accidents some people have survived only because a seat belt was not used -- injured, perhaps, but not dead. Such a person, by law, is subject to a citation and a fine for not dying in the accident using a so-called safety device mandated by politicians. Also, data on such traffic accident cases only reflect one more injury without using a seat belt which, again, exaggerates the so-called benefit of such laws.

3. Evidence of seat belt use being dangerous to life and limb is well documented in the hundreds of successful lawsuits filed against the auto makers since the advent of seat belt laws in 1985, which has resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in court ordered settlements and punitive damage awards to the injured, or survivors of those killed as a result of the failure of a seat belt to save a life as promised. Also, some lawsuits were settled out of court which sealed evidence of seat belt design defects from the public.

4. Further documentation: Recall of hundreds of thousands of autos, vans and light trucks as a result of discovering defects in certain seat belt designs after the fact, which means the motoring public is being forced by law to become unwilling human guinea pigs, unlike how all other products in the marketplace are treated.

In a letter published in the September/October, 1990 edition of “AAA World” a publication of the Chicago Motor Club, Jerry Ralph Curry, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) official, said: “We opened 213 new defect investigations in 1989, the highest one-year figure in the agency's history. A total of 6.8 million vehicles were recalled that year, a million more than the national average.”

While Mr. Curry did not mention seatbelts, such massive recalls again reflect how the public is being used as human guinea pigs for automotive products that have not been thoroughly and properly tested for safety before being introduced into the marketplace.

5. There is also a body of law that clearly states a person has a constitutional right to refuse any individual personal health care device, treatment, drug, or surgery, even if such refusal will result in an earlier death or an increase in medical expenses. Court decisions have confirmed this right many times.

All seat belt laws, therefore, violate a person' s right to freely choose to use or not to use the “health care” seat belt harness. Any medical expert attempting to do the same would be subject to full prosecution of the law, and rightly so, yet politicians claim impunity from the law while demanding strict compliance in the private sector.

The U.S. Supreme Court confirmed the right to determine one's own individual personal health standards in the 1991 Johnson Controls Case. And in 1993, a federal appeals court upheld a $100,000 award to a 320-pound woman who sued the state of Rhode Island for refusing to hire her back to work unless she lost weight. The federal Equal Opportunity Commission had earlier declared obesity a protected right under the Equal Opportunity Act, and the appeals court confirmed that right even though obesity is a self-infected health hazard, that is far more dangerous and a financial burden on society than the health hazard claimed by seat belt law supporters for not using a seat belt.

The fact is, being overweight is an ongoing health hazard, while not using a seat belt is a victimless, state-created crime that hurts no one.

6. There are independent professionals in academia, that is, professionals not on the federal payroll, who have published research and books which challenge the so-called benefit of seat belt laws. Since most members of the news media support seat belt laws, full disclosure of such facts are censored from the general public while any snippet of praise for seat belt laws receives extensive and widespread coverage.

Such bias by the press is sometimes carried into newspaper accounts of traffic accidents. If a person is killed in an accident while not using a seat belt, that fact is always mentioned. If, however, a person is killed while wearing a seat belt, that is not always mentioned. And if is, usually it is conditioned with the comment that the accident was so severe even a seat belt could not save the person.

Actually that may be true in certain kinds of accidents, however, the severity of the accident is not mentioned as a factor in the case of a person being killed while not using a seat belt. Instead, the usual remarks are, “If only a seat belt had been use, the person would have survived the accident,” which is not true in all cases. Such bias, again, distorts the records of traffic accidents in favor of seat belt use.

7. Politicians have no constitutional authority to force some people to maim or kill themselves in certain kinds of traffic accidents as a result of being forced to use a health care device, a seat belt harness, just because they hope others will be saved in other kinds of accidents merely by chance. The fact is, the Bill of Rights forbids the government from taking chances with our bodies, the ultimate private property, unless due process is first initiated. The government has no right to play Russian roulette with a person's life against his/her will.

8. There is certainly nothing wrong with voluntary seat belt harness use, as it is with all other kinds of individual personal health care suggestions and recommendations in life; however, there is a great deal wrong with all state mandatory seat belt harness laws.

In a free society, if a person is injured or killed because he/she freely chooses to use or not to use a seat belt, that is a personal tragedy, as it is with all other kinds of freely chosen risks in life. That is freedom working. However, if a person is injured or killed only because the government forced that person to use a certain device against his/her will, that is tyranny and a dictatorship working and reflects injury or death by government. All state mandatory seat belt harness laws, therefore, must be repealed in order to restore true freedom and constitutional law in the U.S.


Mr. Holdorf can be contacted by writing him at:

5834 S Harlem Ave. #517
Chicago, IL 60638-3142

We have entered the age of activism. Rights not demanded are presumed waived. What do you think: Do you have the right to wear a seatbelt? Do you have the right not to?

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