To the editor:
It has been painful to watch the avalanche of flawed statistics and discredited urban legends wielded by opponents of a primary enforcement seat-belt law in their foolhardy efforts to stop a law which would undeniably save lives.
Jonah Goldberg informs us that since there are states with higher traffic fatality rates that have primary enforcement laws, such laws must be useless. His simplistic analysis ignores the prime directive of statistical research, i.e., that statistical variations between two samples are only relevant if all other factors have been taken into account. Study after study that did take such factors into account have proved that primary enforcement dramatically increases seat-belt use and that increased seat-belt use dramatically decreases accident injury and fatality rates.
A recent letter writer claimed that since millions of people who don’t wear seatbelts have not been killed in accidents, seatbelts don’t save lives. It would make just as much sense to say that since people who don’t play Russian roulette don’t shoot themselves in the head, Russian roulette isn’t dangerous.
That same letter writer trotted out the ridiculous myth that seatbelts can trap passengers in vehicles that are submerged or on fire. The fact is that, as documented by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, virtually every study ever conducted indicates that lap and shoulder belts cut the risk of serious or fatal injury by 40 to 55%.
While the Herald may have a journalistic obligation to present both sides of every story, I do not think that obligation extends to printing absurdities and lies.