Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sam Who?

The Democrat controlled Washington state legislature, oblivious to the real world effects of the auto safety regulations, reinforces H.L. Mencken's insight that, 'Democracy is the theory that the people know what they want, and deserve to get it...good and hard.':

Thousands of Washington children will be forced back into car and booster seats next month when a change to state law takes effect.

On June 1, children will have to stay in the safety seats until they are at least 8 years old or 4 feet, 9 inches tall.

Violators face a $112 ticket.

....Currently, children are required to ride in booster seats until they're 6 years old or weigh 60 pounds.

The changes also require children to use booster seats until they are 16 years old if a vehicle's seat belt does not properly fit the child.

Another change requires children younger than 13 to ride in the back seat whenever possible. They're allowed to ride in the front only if the vehicle has no lap-and-shoulder belts in the back seat.

No doubt the legislature forgot to inform themselves of the Peltzman Effect:

When the offsetting risky behavior encouraged by the safety regulation has negative externalities, the Peltzman effect can result in redistributing risk to innocent bystanders who would behave in a risk-averse manner even without the regulation. For example, if some drivers with a high tolerance for risk who would not otherwise wear a seatbelt respond to a seatbelt law by driving less safely, there will be more total accidents. Overall injuries and fatalities may still decrease due to a higher percentage of drivers involved in accidents wearing seatbelts, but drivers who would wear seatbelts regardless will see their overall risk increase. Similarly, safety regulations for automobiles may put pedestrians or bicyclists in more danger by encouraging risky behavior in drivers without offering additional protection for pedestrians and cyclists.

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