In Monday’s copy of The Daily News Record, my local paper, I stumbled across an article concerning the plan to raise the speed limit on the interstates in rural Virginia. I don’t know about you, but I’m in favor of the idea. Did you know that every neighboring state, with the exception of Maryland, allows a motorist to travel at 70 mph? From my experiences in Tennessee and North Carolina, traffic flows smoother at this higher speed, and, when traveling long distances, it shaves considerable time off of your trip. According to the article, all of the Delegates and Senators in this part of the state support this proposal.
However, also embedded within this article, lawmakers considered the issue of mandatory seat beat laws. Currently in Virginia one can be charged with not wearing a seat belt only if stopped for some other reason. It is a secondary offense. Personally, I believe that the state should not regulate seat belt usage. Should everyone wear a seat belt? Absolutely, but it is not the role of the state to mandate your safety in your car so long as it does not directly affect other motorists or your passengers. If you choose not to wear a seat belt, you should be willing to suffer any ill consequences as a result. It is a matter of personal responsibility. Along this line, all nearby legislators voted against making a seat belt violation a primary offense…all except newly elected Dickie Bell of Staunton. Troubling…most troubling. Unfortunately, as I was working in Newport News during the election, I didn’t spend much time reading about the candidates back home, so I really don’t know too much about Delegate Bell yet. Browsing his website you find the following quote: “Voters in the 20th District want representatives who listen to them and act on their behalf. They want individual freedom to conduct their own lives and make personal choices. They want to raise their families without excessive government interference…” I would argue that such a sentiment reflects the voters of not just the 20th District, but the majority of Virginians as a whole.
So what’s the deal with Delegate Bell’s vote on the seat belt debate? I hope that this particular issue is just an aberration and he, like his campaign website leads us to think, believes in limited government and personal responsibility as opposed to the nanny state. I’d like nothing more for him to be a champion for conservatives like myself in Richmond. I suppose it is too early to tell for certain. Either way, one should keep a close eye on Delegate Bell’s votes in this session to discover the truth.