The Argument for Seat Belts

I’ve always been super picky about seat belts. As a little kid I didn’t want to rid in a car unless I had one on. There were times when this meant sitting buckled in an adult’s lap or sharing a seat belt with another kid. Thankfully this was not common, because that probably wasn’t all that safe.

I remember one time we got stuck on a land bridge on the way to my best friends house when I was probably eight or nine, a two hour drive by the time I was about six. I don’t remember what happened, but I do remember the guy that stopped to take us back to the gas station just before the land bridge started so that we could call for help. The reason I remember so much is because his truck didn’t have any seat belts and I was very concerned. I think I considered trying to talk Mom into waiting for the next vehicle to stop or just walking. I did get in and it left a lasting impression on me.

I didn’t like it.

Another lasting impression involving seat belts was when I was a freshman in college. For some reason I was driving some of my classmates somewhere. They piled into the 1986 yellow LaBaron that I was driving, all four of them. I checked for seat belts. I rarely had passengers, so this was not something I normally had to think about, but I had a rule.

Everyone had to wear a seat belt if I was driving the car.

At this point I forget who, although I have a guess, but at least one of my passengers didn’t have his seat belt on. I told them to put on their seat belt and they argued with me. That was when I started to get worried. I pushed harder on the break and informed them that I wasn’t going anywhere until everyone had their seat belts buckled. After some grumbling and arguing every one had their seat belts on.

Today was another big day for seat belts. This time, though, it isn’t about someone not wearing a seat belt, it’s about being glad that we did. We’ve been traveling and we driving along the California freeway. A motorcycle pulled in front of the car and my brother-in-law handled that well enough. Shortly there after, with the motorcycle still in front of us, everything screeched to a halt. My brother-in-law, and everyone else around us, slammed on their breaks.

We weren’t quite sure what happened, but the seat belt dug into my skin and the breadbox went flying forward as we came to a stop. Once we had stopped, everyone was a little stunned but all right. We hadn’t hit the motorcycle in front of us and everyone else we could see seemed to be all right. Disaster averted.

Once we had managed to pull around, one car at a time, because two lanes weren’t moving and there were only three there, we saw the cause of the sudden stop. Two cars were stopped in the middle of the freeway and a third was pulled over on the side of the road. The car on the side of the road was smashed up a bit and we realized that there must have been some sort of accident right when we got there. Behind the car a woman sat on the side of the road and clung her arm close to her chest. She looked like she was in anguish.

Since I don’t know what caused the accident or how badly anyone was injured I don’t know what could have prevented it. I do know that the sudden stop of our vehicle could have been bad if any of us hadn’t been wearing our seat belts. As hard as I was thrown against my seat belt, I probably would have been thrown into the seat in front of me if I hadn’t been wearing it.

For me this is just another argument for wearing a seat belt. Do you think people should wear seat belts or not? Why? Do you have a story to tell about why you believe what you do on the matter?

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