When Americans Resisted Seat Belt Laws

When David Hollister introduced a seat belt bill in Michigan in the early 1980s, which imposed a fine for not buckling up, the state official received a hate mail comparing him to Hitler . Back then, only 14% of Americans wore seat belts regularly, although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) required lap and shoulder belts in all new cars from 1968 onwards.

Resistance to life-saving appliances at the time was the norm.

Drivers and passengers alike complained that seat belts were uncomfortable and restrictive, but the outcry over mandatory seat belt laws was mostly ideological. One of Hollister’s colleagues at Michigan House called the seat belt bill “a very good lesson in mass hysteria created by corporate-controlled media” and warned the government would ban smoking then. Another said anyone who voted for the bill should be called back.

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