Unreasonable Ohio seatbelt laws

By: Zach West

Illustrated by Carli Molinelli

On my commute to class every day, I occasionally notice “Click it or ticket” signs or “Buckle up, it’s the law” billboards. One day, directly after noticing one of these signs, a person on a motorcycle sped by wearing street clothes and a pair of sunglasses. While noticing the apparent irony, I thought of how contradictory seat belt laws were with motorcycle safety laws.

According to dmv.org, drivers and passengers in the front seat of a vehicle are required to wear a seat belt, along with children between the age of four and 15 riding in the back seat.

However, the safety laws for motorcyclists are much more lenient. Helmets are required for riders who are minors and riders who only have their temporary permit or less than one year riding experience. In other words, in the state of Ohio, if a rider is licensed, over 18 years of age and has a year of riding experience, there is no law requiring safety equipment to be worn.

If regulations are not going to be the same for both kinds of vehicles, there should be no requirements for personal safety while driving or riding any kind of motor vehicle, with the exception of riders who are minors.

I believe personal safety is a choice. With seat belt laws, that choice of personal safety is taken away, along with a little bit of freedom. For example, smoking is proven to be harmful to the health of people, but cigarettes are a legal product that people have the choice to consume. There are no state laws prohibiting people from smoking. A person should be able to get into a car or on a motorcycle while smoking a cigarette and drive away with no safety restraint because he or she has the ability to choose to do so.

The state of Ohio has already proven that motorcycle safety restrictions are not a concern. I ask, then, why seat belts are such a concern. Why is the personal safety of a motorcyclist his own decision, while in a car the driver is stripped of his ability to choose what is best for him?

Personally, I buckle my seat belt every time I get in my car and wear a helmet every time I ride my motorcycle. I choose to take safety precautions while operating motor vehicles, as I think everyone should. What I do not agree with is people being stripped of that choice and making it a requirement.

Safety requirements for one kind of motor vehicle and not the other are not only contradictory, but hypocritical, and I believe something needs to be done.