“The victim wasn’t wearing a seatbelt”
How many times have we read that line at the end of a fatal accident report? When you read it, your lips purse, and the thought goes through your head, “Why didn’t they just buckle up? It would have been so easy.” We put our seatbelts on every single time we get in the car for many reasons. It’s the law! It took a long time and thousands of deaths before people listened to the science and statistical data, and enacted mandatory seatbelt laws. Some of us remember the days when we were freely tossed into cars as youngsters. My sister has a permanent inch-long scar on the side of her face because she wasn’t wearing a seatbelt in the back of our Griswold station wagon. My mom had to slam on the brakes suddenly, and her tiny body was thrown into the back door. I don’t remember why she didn’t have it on, but I don’t think any of us six kids were wearing seatbelts. It wasn’t the norm. It was inconvenient, especially for large families like mine, to make sure everyone was strapped in all the time. And, even with the best made plans, kids sometimes take their seatbelts off for no good reason. But the fact is that seatbelts save lives. We know that now. So why do people still get into cars and skip this step?
I remember when I was a very young adult, my father told me something that I’ve never forgotten. I don’t remember the context of the conversation, but I seem to recall it being a somber moment. He told me that people don’t realize their mortality until sometime in their 20s. Something usually happens in their life, usually something deeply personal or near to them, and they have an “oh, shit!” moment. I remember the moment it happened to me. Like my father said, I was in my early 20s. I was driving, and nearly made a turn into oncoming traffic on a road I didn’t realize was a two-way street. When I realized my near mistake, I felt the sensation of my blood draining from my upper body. I felt the adrenaline rush. It took a long time for me to physically calm myself, and I’ve never detached the thought. I still think of it often when I’m driving. My mortality is very real. I am fragile.
Statistics show that the majority of car accidents do not result in fatalities. Fender benders happen several times a day in most urban areas. The use of seatbelts in those accidents is rarely relevant to fatalities simply because the rate of speed involved is usually fairly low.
But the fact is we don’t know when we are going to be in an accident, and THAT is why we buckle up. We might operate our car safely and drive the speed limit. We might be in total control of our vehicle. However, we don’t have control over other factors like our fellow drivers, weather, road conditions, animals, etc. The truth is we just don’t know what every moment will bring to our tiny little bubble of a world on any given day. So, JUST IN CASE, we take steps to protect ourselves from all dangers that are within our control.
Why is this important?
Because I’m so tired of reading about people who cannot take a simple step to prevent future death and suffering by donning a mask!
Look, sometimes I hate the way a seatbelt feels. I don’t like being restricted in my movements. I don’t know anyone who enjoys feeling like that. Yet, the fact is I CAN still move, and a seatbelt protects me. If I am safe, I am available for my children. I am here for my family and my future. The end.
No one likes the way a mask feels. It’s hot, it feels stifling and intrusive. I get it! I feel that way, too. The truth is you CAN still breathe, and a mask protects you AND me. If you find it stifling, try a different kind of mask. Ask someone else what works for them.
Many people are arguing that the majority of people who contract the virus recover from COVID-19, and therefore, they are not worried about being infected with it. Yes, that is true. However, I would argue that you just don’t know for sure if you will recover or the seriousness of your illness. There are cases of healthy young children and adults succumbing to this awful affliction. There are cases of healthy young children and adults getting over the virus, but having their health so adversely affected that they face months of difficult rehabilitation in order to fully recover.
You don’t know. Just like when you get in a car, as a driver or a passenger, you never know if you will be in an accident. You cannot predict the seriousness of an accident. No one gets in a car planning to get hurt or killed. No one plans to hit a deer. No one wakes up and goes to work planning to be hit by a drunk driver, or to skid on the ice or rain or oil, or to be pinned under tons of metal with crushed bones or organs, waiting to be cut free. So they put on a seatbelt – you know – just in case!
This virus is still very new. There is so much we have to learn about it and our human response to it. We aren’t sure of why certain people are affected while others aren’t. We don’t yet understand if survival equals immunity, especially since we are seeing repeat infections. The symptoms aren’t even consistent. It’s an enigma, still.
So, why take a chance? You never know. Why would you risk your health or your life or your family’s lives for convenience? How many relatives of car crash fatalities live every single day wondering why their loved one didn’t put on a seatbelt? Just wear the mask, just like you just wear the seatbelt. The seatbelt law was enacted to force people to save their OWN lives. When left to our own devices, humans often don’t do the right thing. If you don’t like being told what to do, just put on the mask while you have a choice and before it becomes a legislated issue. We will be stuck in this pandemic abyss until people either choose to do the right thing or until people are forced to do things they don’t like. Wouldn’t you rather have the choice?