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Nanny State? No, Just Good Government

May 5, 2007

By Dennis Nolan

To the editor:

The Review-Journal has done it again. The April 25 editorial portraying as "Nanny Staters" those who support changing Nevada law to make a seat belt violation a primary instead of a secondary offense was one of your better fairy tales.

First, in every state that implemented a primary seat belt law, the undeniable fact is that auto-related deaths and injuries decreased dramatically. What does that mean to the average Las Vegan? Well, in a community that has one of the highest fatal accident rates per capita - thanks to all the idiot aggressive and reckless drivers we tolerate - the chance you or someone you know will walk away from an accident or walk out of a hospital, instead of adding to the coroner's work load, dramatically improves.

I know - I served Las Vegas for 15 years as an EMT/paramedic and coroner investigator.

So you already wear your seat belt and really don't care about the other guy dumb enough not to buckle up? What's it to you? Ever get tired of paying some of the highest auto insurance rates in the nation - thanks to all the idiot aggressive and reckless drivers we tolerate?

The only thing that will stabilize our skyrocketing rates is reducing the incidents of accident severity and frequency of claims that insurance companies have to pay.

Based on well-established national data, it is estimated that within the first year of implementing a primary seat belt law, 18 lives would be spared, saving insurance companies and taxpayers $22 million. An additional 220 injuries would be avoided, saving another $33 million.

If that's not enough to understand why it is in Nevada's best interest to have all motorists buckle up, we are facing an enormous shortfall in revenues for the expansion and maintenance of our highways over the next decade. Nevada is immediately eligible for $5.5 million in federal highway dollars with the passage of Senate Bill 42, the primary seat belt law. That's $5.5 million you and I will not have to pay in increased taxes.

The Review-Journal's editorial implied I did a little "horse trading" to snare more votes to ensure the bill's passage from the state Senate. What I did was provide some skeptical members of the Senate with additional valid data assuring them that states which had adopted the measure had not seen any increase in racial profiling as a result.

Frankly, my belief is if some bored cop (and I don't think there are many of those in Las Vegas) wants to stop you for that "broken tail light" just to cite you for the secondary "not-wearing-your- set-belt" offense, they will anyway. So just buckle up.

Finally, there are a few things that we can all agree we expect government to do. Providing for the safety and well-being of our citizens is one of them. The Review-Journal would contend that the legislators in 25 states with primary seat belt laws - and the other 20 states considering same - create "Nanny States" by enacting such a measure. The reality is, ensuring the safety and financial interests of constituents is part and parcel of what we expect from our elected officials.

dennis nolan

carson city

The writer, a Las Vegas Republican, is a member of the Nevada Senate.

(c) 2007 Las Vegas Review - Journal. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

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