ROCKVILLE, MD – After opposing the County Council’s proposed legislation to mandate COVID vaccinations for all county employees, County Executive Marc Elrich also decided to oppose the current seatbelt mandate for all Montgomery County drivers.
“Brinkmanship legislation is not smart policy,” said Elrich, an ally for the Teamsters union. “I’m not opposed to a seatbelt mandate in principle, but lawmakers acted prematurely by making it the law before examining how wearing a seatbelt could diminish public safety, add financial costs to automakers, and cause time-consuming shirt wrinkles that will have to be ironed out.”
All nine County Council members support the longtime seatbelt mandate, which, of course, means Elrich opposes it. “I’m all for public safety, but this should be handled by persuasion and incentives,” he told the County Council in a statement. “Making threats with slogans like ‘Click It or Ticket’ is clearly not the right approach when talking to folks who haven’t had enough time to independently study the long term health effects of being restrained from catapulting through the windshield during a violent vehicle collision.”
Rather than a punitive approach, Elrich said he prefers the “Click it or Test it” policy, under which drivers who choose not to wear a seatbelt must volunteer as a crash test dummy every 7 days. If they survive a 65 mph head-on crash into a brick wall, the driver may continue working that week seatbelt-free. Those who fail will be placed on administrative leave while their next of kin is notified.
Councilmember Hans Riemer, who is running against Elrich in the 2022 primary, defended the seatbelt mandate. “This is about ensuring safety, and sometimes that means mandating rules rather than relying on people to make good choices,” said Riemer. “We can’t just expect that everyone is going to exercise good judgment in the same county where 65,000 people voted for Robin Ficker.”