Laws that aren't vigorously enforced aren't respected. That's one reason why the Minnesota Legislature should put some teeth into its seat-belt law and allow law officers to stop vehicles and issue tickets for violations of the law. Currently police are empowered to ticket for seat-belt violations only after stopping a vehicle for a different infraction.
Minnesota was timid in its seat-belt legislation from the very beginning. The first year the law was on the books there was no penalty for a violation. In a report card issued last week by the National Safe Kids Campaign, Minnesota earned a "D."
The fact that seat belts save lives is indisputable. Ask the state troopers who must respond to the scenes of serious traffic accidents.
Critics who claim their personal liberty is at stake ignore the fact that it's the public that picks up the mounting hospital bills for many of those accident victims who suffer severe injuries.
California, the first state to make its seat-belt law subject to primary enforcement, has a buckle-up rate of 90 percent compared to Minnesota's rate of 73 percent, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported.
It's also clear that when adults start buckling up the children follow suit. Once a state switches to primary enforcement the use of seat belts goes up about 15 percent, studies show, with even better results for children. In Louisiana child restraint use jumped from 45 to 82 percent two years after the state switched to primary enforcement.
These results justify the toughening-up of Minnesota's seat-belt law. The expected benefits far outweigh the sacrifices motorists will have to make by buckling up.
A minimum size for type
on political ads is needed
Political junkies who are tired of squinting to identify the sponsor of political ads were no doubt pleased with Monday's Minnesota House action requiring that all disclaimers in campaign advertising is in at least 8-point type.
The bill is aimed at eliminating ads where the disclaimers are impossible to read. It must still be approved by the Senate.
The legislation makes sense because print that is less than 8-point type such as this 6-point type can be difficult for many people to read.
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