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Belted Is Good
Photo: Antonio J. Sanchez
I am a seatbelt fanatic. If I am in a car I use the seatbelts. If the seatbelt does not work, I take another car. If I am driving a car, it does not get out of park until everyone in it has their seatbelt fastened. If you do not want to wear one? I will wait until you feel like wearing it.

Why am I so hard over about wearing seatbelts? Look at the car-crash involving New Jersey Governor, John Corzine. Three people were in the car. Two wore seatbelts. One, Governor Corzine, did not. Guess which one is now in a hospital in critical condition on a ventilator? I will give you a clue—it was not the two wearing seatbelts.

Why do people not wear seatbelts? The fear of being trapped in the car is often given as one reason. People say they would rather get thrown clear of the car if they get in an accident. Both reasons are irrational—even foolish.

Staying in your seat is the best thing that can happen in an accident. Cars today are designed to absorb the impact of a collision by collapsing around the passenger compartment. In most accidents, the passenger compartment stays intact longest. On rare occasions emergency responders may have to cut you out of the car, but you will be otherwise safe.

You Keep Going

If you are not wearing a seatbelt? When the car stops suddenly, you keep going. You may go up—and have your head hit the windshield at just under the speed you were traveling. Imagine what hitting a glass windshield at 35 miles per hour will do. Now imagine the impact at 65.

You might go down, into the floorboards. Now it is your legs hitting metal at 35 or 65 miles per hour. If you are lucky, you will suffer compound fractures. Doctors can fix that. If you are unlucky, your legs will be driven into your abdomen. It is ugly, messy, and often fatal.

You might get thrown clear, right? If you do, hope a miracle cushions your landing. Want to simulate the effect of being thrown clear from a car traveling 50 miles an hour? Imagine jumping out of a fifth-floor window. You will be going the same speed when you hit in both cases. Still want to be thrown clear of car in an accident?

I have a friend who is an Emergency Medical Team technician. He has seen many accidents. He once told me he has never cut a dead person out of a seatbelt, but he cannot count the number of dead victims he has seen who were not using seatbelts.

Still scared of getting trapped by the seatbelt? Bring a hunting knife with you to cut yourself free, afterwards. You have a better chance to still be alive and conscious enough to be able to do that—if you wear your seatbelt.

Hard words? Better hard words than the hard facts encountered—at 50 miles-per-hour—from not wearing a seatbelt.

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Written by Mark N. Lardas. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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