The Seat Belt vs Face Mask Analogy Is Wrong

Often when writers want to overcome push back to wearing masks, they bring up the initial refusals to wear seat belts as they were introduced in American automobiles. This really isn’t an accurate analogy.

Yes seat belts were inconvenient and the earliest version uncomfortable. But technology over came these two items. And then education and highway safety laws overcame the majorities reticence to using them.

But comparing the seat belt issue to the current one over face masks doesn’t quite work.

Seat belts protect the user. If you drive you car into a tree, seat belts will help protect you. The tree is out of luck. If you strike another car, you will be protected, but not the occupants of the other car unless they too are wearing their seat belts. If you hit a pedestrian, the seat belt will still protect you but is of no value to the pedestrian. So the seat belt protects its user whether as a driver or passenger. So the story is an easier sell since you only have to convince someone to protect their own health and well being.

So if you hit that tree without your seat belt, yes, you made a choice and you alone will suffer the consequence.

Face masks…or face coverings as the right is now calling them…for the most part protect others from….you…if you are contagious. So it’s a harder sell for those who only care about protecting themselves or hold that they aren’t responsible for the well being of others. So yes if they get COVID-19 for not wearing a mask their health is at their own risk…except it isn’t since it’s a communicable disease. A very possibly invisible communicable disease if they are asymptomatic.

Now, you want a car analogy? Drunk driving laws. If a driver is operating his vehicle while drunk and smacks that poor tree…yes he is suffering the consequences of his own actions. The problem with drunk driving is too often it causes injury and death to others…when the drunk runs a stop sign and hits another vehicle…crosses the center line and hits another vehicle…proceeds in the wrong direction and hits another vehicle. These are injuries and deaths that are preventable…just as COVID-19 is if everyone would wear a mask in public.

Ex-Federal Health Officials Encourage Mask Use To Counter COVID-19 Surges

You know, we know that if a large percentage of population – one state showed if 60% of people wear masks that are 60% effective, that alone can reduce the transmission rate below one, so you have a shrinking epidemic rather than an expanding epidemic.

I think if we told people that they would do exactly what Scott said with a simple 99 cent something over their face and they would only need to do it for a short period of time, it’s the greatest bargain of all time. You know, the Czech Republic put on masks early. They had reported 80% mask use, and now they don’t even need to wear masks anymore.

emphasis mine

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14 thoughts on “The Seat Belt vs Face Mask Analogy Is Wrong

  1. Well, face masks can be improved, like seatbelts, to be sealed onto your face so that you will also be protected from others.

    1. Well…no. The study you cite is not an RCT study and admits that in it’s discussion section. The study can not dertermine if it was the masks or the distancing or something else that slowed the transmission. Peer reviewed studies here show that masks do nothing for ILI.

      Blogging Blue seems to be deleting my comments, so if you are curious and see this, click on the link fast before the comment is unpersoned.

      1. Having recently lost a young adult child to the failure of the US health care system to provide access at all, much less affordable access to young adults, I sympathize with and in no way am I attempting to minimize, devalue or disparage the real grief felt by their families and friend over their losses, but when you cite random control as being the reason people should dismiss this reported avenue to help control the spread of the virus, perhaps you’re following the medical advisors to Herman Cain or Charlie Kirk? Random enough life-ending events to help convince you?

        There is a commenting policy, but maybe that too infringes on your liberty to be unconcerned about the adverse consequences for others, resulting from your actions.

        1. First, sorry for your loss. It’s not easy losing a loved one.

          Second and more on point, if you accept “studies” heavy with hearsay, anecdotal evidence, and “confounded by other interventions” you can pretty much show anything will protect you from anything.

          Lastly, did you ever see archive footage of the “Ice Bowl” game? Did you see the steam coming from the scarve-mummified faces of those in the stands? Those clouds of stream are made of tiny water droplets exhaled from the spectators. Tell me again how a small piece of cheesecloth will prevent this when inches of cotton and wool didn’t.

          If you got the ‘rona, DON’T GO OUT. If you don’t, put down the fear porn and get back to your life.

          1. Even if you are suffering from persistent or acute cranial/rectal inversion, where nobody around you need worry about you breathing directly on them, you could still be an asymptomatic virus carrier capable of easily infection others if you should ever remove your head from your a$$.

            Thanks for pointing out the fallacy of your own arguments. Inadequate testing availability and excessive time needed for most people who get tested, though they are asymptomatic, get results that are not necessarily valid any longer, because of the time lag. People don’t know and can’t always, easily or promptly find out if they “…got the ‘rona…” Thus masks are advised.

            You further disprove anything you attempt to bring to the discussion with your authoritarian ordering of what others need to do and how they should get back to their life, while exempting yourself from the reverse condition of following any other official dictate or plain advice.

            I don’t believe for a second that you are sorry, or sympathetic, could ever show empathy, or be sincere. But that’s just me.

            1. So…you didn’t see that old footage of the ice bowl?

              June 8, 2020

              “From the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual,” Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, said at a news briefing from the United Nations agency’s Geneva headquarters. “It’s very rare.”

              “The great tragedy of Science — the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact”

              -Thomas Huxley

              At this point non, I was going to throw in a Brave New World reference, but given your obvious limitations, it would be a waste of a beautifully woven tapestry of words, so we’ll just skip that and get right to the crescendo.

              Authoritarian to tell people to live their own lives? Check. Covering your own special brand of illogic with hysterically funny irony is an interesting tactic when you can see mate a comin’. Checkmate, well played.

        1. While meta analysis can be useful, it can also be misleading due the methodology of meta-analysis being highly malleable. The personal bias of the author’s agenda can have a strong influence on the conclusion. Any study for or against the efficacy of masks that relies solely on meta analysis that has come out in the toxic political environment that existed in late June of this year is a very thin and fragile reed to base legislation, or your health, on.

          Hiro, I appreciate your efforts to find a study. If you can find any RCT research that shows mask efficacy with ILI, it would give any skeptical but open minded person pause. Until then, the masked are just virtue signers, robbers, or the ugly.

          Also this…

  2. Face masks are exactly the same protecting you as much as others… airflow going in, and going out.
    Def not a one way street.

  3. So you’re going to compare a situation in which both the victim and assailant have to ability to protect themselves, to a situation where only the assailant has that ability? (a pedestrian wearing a seat belt isn’t going to be protected by a driver wearing a seat belt!) Your contribution to this debate is massively flawed!

  4. This is the most uneducated article I have EVER read. You say the following

    “Seat belts protect the user. If you drive you car into a tree, seat belts will help protect you. The tree is out of luck. If you strike another car, you will be protected, but not the occupants of the other car unless they too are wearing their seat belts. If you hit a pedestrian, the seat belt will still protect you but is of no value to the pedestrian.”

    You’re just making a point of masks even MORE protective than seat belts. You just admitted that if I drive a car and hit you whether you wear a mask or not it could still cause damage or death to you. Where as if only I wear a mask and come near you you are MUCH less likely to get injured. If you wore your mask too you’d have a lower risk. The analogy is a great one because A. You both choose to wear them or not B. They both can save YOUR life, and C. If you wear a mask you are potentially saving someone else’s life vs you wearing a seat belt won’t increase or decrease someones chances of survival.

    This is some absolutely zero thought out journalism.

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