Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The use of seat belts

The use of seat belts has been in the news lately. Apparently, people in this province have slacked off on using them. I am pretty passionate about this subject. It seems like such a simple thing to do and such a waste when people die because they didn't wear one. I know people have their reasons. The belts chafe their necks, they're too restrictive and, the number one reason I hear for not wearing seat belts: that a person could get trapped inside a burning vehicle or a vehicle submerged in water. Now, let's just consider the odds of that shall we? I'm no statistician but I'm pretty sure you're a lot more likely to be saved by a seat belt in a collision or rollover accident than you are to be trapped in a burning or submerged car. And, even if you are trapped in a car, at least you have a chance someone can cut you out. No such chance when your skull has exploded against a tree or the vehicle you were riding in has landed on top of you after you've been ejected. And if you really think that this is a high probability, you can buy seat belt cutters to attach to your dash.

I have two main reasons I believe in the use of seat belts. The first is because my life was saved when I used mine. It was a few years back. The accident involved a moose and the truck I was in ended up flying through the air for a bit. I was slightly injured in the accident. The cause of my injuries, badly bruised ribs and a cut on my neck, was my seat belt. But when a seat belt causes your injuries, it's because it stopped you while you were moving forward with such force that bringing up on the seat belt damaged your body. And if the seat belt didn't stop me from moving forward with such force, the police didn't think the windshield would have either. They told me that I would have died without the seat belt, not "probably" or "most likely" but "would have", and I believed them. I don't go two feet without wearing my seat belt now. When I ride on the passenger side, where I was that night, I often feel like the seat belt is lying right where my neck was cut and I try to find ways for it not to touch the skin on my neck (by putting it under my collar or by using one of those seat belt pads), but I would never think of not wearing the seat belt.

The other main reason I believe in seat belts comes from a story I saw on the news years ago. A state trooper who worked on a very busy highway and had been at the scene of hundreds of accidents was being interviewed about seat belt use. It was on in the background while I was doing something else but what he said stopped me cold. His simple words were as profound as anything I'd ever heard: "I've never unbuckled a dead man". According to the Internet, this phrase seems to be a fairly common thing for cops to say. But there's a reason for that.

My three-year-old, while playing the other day, heard a news report that said someone had not been wearing a seat belt. "Mommy, why would someone not wear a seat belt?" he asked me. "I don't know," I answered. "That's silly," he said. I couldn't have said it better.


At 12:51 PM, Anonymous Heather Patey said...

Tina, you should come and volunteer with us at Kids In Safe Seats:

We need people who "get it" and you obviously do!

At 3:16 PM, Anonymous TrudyJ said...

Great post, Tina. In my years of teaching I have had probably 7 or 8 students die in the few years after I finished teaching them ... most of those were in car accidents and none were wearing seatbelts. All young men in their late teens, early 20s who would probably still be alive if they'd had a seatbelt on. One young fellow was riding with his wife and baby. The baby got fussy and the young dad unbuckled his own seat belt to turn around and quiet the baby down (wife was driving) just as the car hit a patch of black ice. Even a few seconds without a seatbelt is too many. You're absolutely right to be so adamant about it.

I'm so glad our kids' generation has grown up thinking of seat belts as the norm ... my kids will SCREAM at me if they're not finished buckling up before we back out of a parking spot. "MOMMY! I'm not BUCKLED!!!!" When I was little my parents drove from St. John's to Toronto with me in the backseat with a sheet of plywood laid across the seat covered by quilts and a load of toys, no restraint whatsoever ... like a big mobile playpen. Of course they knew no better in those days but it's a wonder kids survived.

At 9:24 PM, Blogger xXxThere*Is*Always*HopexXx said...

I'm 14 and I totally agree with you. I think it's stupid not to wear a seat belt. My parents installed this in my brain before I knew how to talk. Or atleast it seems. I never remember my mom saying anything like, "Oh it's fine you don't need it." I think that more parents need to be like you and my mom and just say "Put that seat belt on or else we won't go anywhere" It's important. I love my friends and there parents but not enough of them enforce the I don't care if we're driving to the parking space next to us get that thing on. I'll get in a friends car and put on my seatbelt and they'll be like "What are you doing." or they'll get in the car with me and my parents and I'll be like "Uh yeah get buckled up because we don't even start the car until everyone is buckled."



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