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Diatribe: Six (Sad) Reasons People Might Not Wear Seatbelts.


BuckleUpI don’t start my car until I fasten my seat belt   In fact, I generally won’t set the vehicle in motion until all of my passengers are “buckled in”, too.  Sure, I have airbags and tons of safety features that weren’t available in cars that my parents drove, but in my opinion the biggest lifesaver on the road is the seat belt.

The U.S. Department of Transportation reported in its 2012 National Occupant Protection Use Survey, the only survey that provides nationwide probability-based observed data on seatbelt use in the United States, that seatbelt use reached eighty-six percent.  Yet, despite laws requiring that they be worn by all drivers, there are many people who still don’t wear them for some rather silly reasons.  Here are six examples:

  1. “It’s a short trip and I’ll be going slow.” – Apparently, some people choose not to wear their seat belts when they’re driving close to home thinking that, because they’ll be driving at relatively slow speeds they won’t need their seat belts.  The National Transportation Safety Board has noted that eighty percent of all crashes happen at speeds less than 40 mph and seventy-five percent of those are within twenty-five miles of home.  Statistics indicate that seat belts dramatically reduce the risk of death and serious injury.
  2. “Wearing a seat belt is uncomfortable.” – Many people believe the combination of a lap and shoulder belt is uncomfortable so they either don’t wear a seatbelt or they put the shoulder belt under their arm which can cause internal injuries in the event of an accident.  I imagine that smashing one’s head into a windshield is also uncomfortable.
  3. “Nobody’s going to tell me what to do in my own car!” – Some drivers refuse to wear seatbelts because the resent being told what to do in their own car.  Perhaps they view their vehicle as their castle and they want to rule as they see fit without being told what to do.  Of course this is ridiculous as all traffic laws regarding speed limits and stop signs are examples of drivers being told how to behave.
  4. “If I’m thrown from the car I’m more likely to be saved.” – Baloney … people who get thrown from their cars are far more likely to get killed than those wearing seat belts.
  5. “I want to be able to get out if the car catches fire or sinks in deep water.” – Sure, unfastening a seat belt might take a few seconds in either of these circumstances but wearing a seat belt could mean the different between being conscious or unconscious throughout the ordeal.  (An insignificant percentage of all accidents involve submersion or fire.)
  6. “I don’t want my clothes to get wrinkled.” – Yeah … we want to look our best for the paramedics.

Seriously, seat belts save thousands of lives each year, and increasing their use could save thousands more.  It is widely believed that well-enforced seat belt laws work because most people would rather buckle up than pay a fine.  Unfortunately in many states, fines for violating seat belt laws are so small that they don’t really motivate people to wear them.  While increased fines might make a difference, I believe the technology exists to prevent a car from starting until the driver buckles up.  After all, we can’t start our lawnmowers unless we’re sitting on their seats and it doesn’t seem to cause a problem.

Do you think cars that don’t start until the driver buckles up is a good idea?


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Copyright © 2013

From → Diatribes

  1. I don’t think we should have laws that make people wear seatbelts or helmets on motorcycles. If they’re that stupid, then by all means become an organ donor.

    I mean, hell, we can’t even pass gun legislation, but we give people tickets for not wearing a seatbelt?


  2. I’m a big fan of seatbelts. When I had a minor accident (I was rear-ended) the first question the insurance company asked was “was everybody buckled?” It matters.

    But I will confess to leaving my belt off as I back out of the garage — I have to turn out the light manually …


  3. Great post. Several comments. 1) As a father, I tell the kids the driver won’t drive until everyone is buckled up, no exceptions, including my kids’ friends. Whether they like it or not is irrelevant, but I think they deep down like that I care. 2) For those who say “you cannot tell me what to do in my car” my argument is if you are in a wreck, the hospital must take you in and care for you. To the extent, you do not have insurance, we insureds pay for your care. But, my point is people who risk their lives are being very selfish, because somewhere someone care for you. 3) For those who want to be thrown free from the wreck, in my hometown, a young man was in a wreck on a boulevard (45 mph speed limit, but he was going faster). They could not find his body. About two days later, they found it on the roof of house about 75 feet away. True story. As an Old Fart, one thing I have learned is you cannot outlaw stupidity. Thanks, BTG


  4. When seatbelt laws first came about, I was one of those people who protested loud & long. I hated seatbelts! Now I can’t put my car in gear without my seatbelt on!


  5. Lamont permalink

    The seat belt law is a good one. Anyone who refuses to wear one is just plain dumb. You are endangering yourself and anyone else in the vehicle with you. On top of that it sets a bad example for others especially our young people.

    I know people who are EMS workers, cops and tow truck drivers. Its not fair to them to have to come behind and clean up messes like that which can be avoided. If people are not thinking about themselves, they should at least consider the impact their irresponsibility can cause others.

    “Click it or ticket.”


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