Monday, April 11, 2011

A Little Restraint, Please

Yesterday, Chicago -- like many other cities across the country -- enjoyed a fantastically hot and sunny day. Seeing as how there have been late-April blizzards here in years past, I'd say an 82-degree afternoon on 4/10 was major cause for celebration.

I made it a point to get outside, and ended up taking a two-hour-long walk along Lake Michigan (apologies to those I blinded with my neon-white legs and arms). On my way home I was pretty close to Lake Shore Drive, and in particular the exit that leads to Lincoln Park Zoo. This free zoo is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, and a lot of the cars that I walked next to (literally just feet from) were packed with kids.

That was when I noticed how few people wore their seat belts. The traffic was almost at a standstill, and so I probably passed 50 cars. I'd say about 70% of the people I counted weren't buckled up.

I was astonished. I would NEVER NOT wear my seat belt. You know how some people don't buckle up in cabs? (Which is exactly when you really need to the most, by the way.) Yeah... I'm not one of those people. It is just an instinct. I always reach for my seat belt the second I get into a car. Any car.

From what I saw at the Fullerton exit, however, I may be in the minority.

This bothered me the rest of the way home. First I was upset by how many people seemed to think they were invincible. But mostly I was disturbed by how few children were wearing belts. I mean, if you want to take chances with your own life, fine. (Not really... I think you're stupid... but fine.) But to not ensure that your kids are safe? I find that reprehensible. That's beyond lazy parenting -- it's almost like intentionally putting your offspring in harm's way. HOW HARD IS IT TO PUT ON A SEAT BELT? HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE? Answers: Not hard, and a millisecond.

It's over 24 hours after my depressing discovery, and it's still bothering me. I never feel my seat belt, so it can't be a comfort thing. (And for the record, some of the people who WERE wearing belts were, um... let's just say a bit overweight. Yet they still buckled up and didn't use "It's cutting into my skin!!!" as an excuse.) The "But there's never any traffic where I drive" or "I only go on really slow roads" or "I've never been in an accident" excuses also make no sense. That's like telling me you can predict the future or control everyone else's actions. Last I checked, Oprah didn't have you on her show, so you must not be all-knowing and all-powerful. NEXT EXCUSE!

Now, I know I've been a bit harsh in this post, but I promise I will not personally degrade you if you're brave enough to write in and tell me why you're among those who don't buckle up. I just want to know why. Do you really think there's some sort of "seat belt conspiracy" and that it WON'T save your life? This inquiring mind needs to know why you're ignoring the facts.

(But please DO NOT TELL ME if you don't make your kids buckle up. I will never forgive you!)

- e


bigben said...

Where I live, its the law, you have to buckle up or face fines. Growing up it wasn't the law and Dad only made us buckle up when we were on the highway, never in town.

Once it became law, I think that the majority buckled up. I didn't think there were any jurisdictions left that did not require seat belts to be worn.

KarinSimmons said...

I totally agree with you! I don't get it either. The only thing I can think of is that those that don't buckle up somewhere heard a story of how one time somebody was wearing a seatbelt was killed and if they had NOT been wearing one, would have survived and that somehow sticks in their head. (sorry for the awkward sentence!)

Also, I have heard people say they just forget... It's funny, because if I'm NOT wearing my seatbelt and the car is moving I almost feel like I'm gonna fly out of my seat!

krnic1972 said...

They just made it a law last year in Louisiana that the people in the back have to wear seat belts and it so surprises me that people weren't doing it before - like the back is so much safer then the front?!?!

I have been know to call the police when I see children in a car without seatbelt adn/or car seats and I hope the parents got in trouble but I seriously doubt it. Children are innocent and learn from their surroundings so if you don't belt them as children, they will be more likely not to wear seatbelts as adults.

Marebabe said...

I am a habitual seatbelt-wearer, with one exception. If I’m a passenger in the back seat of someone’s car, and there’s a seatbelt WITHOUT a shoulder harness, I skip it. I’m pretty tall (5’10”), and if I can see that I would end up smashing my face against the seat in front of me, I choose the “take my chances in a collision” option over the “guaranteed broken neck” option. It doesn’t come up often, maybe once a year, if that. And newer cars ALL have shoulder harnesses for every seat. So really, I think you can put me down in the “Always wears her seatbelt” column. (And I LOVED the “next million miles” sign you included in this post. Excellent!)

seg74 said...

I thought it was a law in Illinois?! I can't imagine not buckling myself, let alone my kids... that's insane.

And, ever since I was in a pretty bad cab accident, I buckle up in those too!

Caity said...

e, it's a little off-topic, but along the same lines as your post. One of my friends posted a status on Facebook the other day that said he was sitting in traffic and the driver in the car next to him was taking bong hits! I was appalled that somebody would actually be doing that while they're driving, but what was even worse was the number of people who commented on my friend's status saying it was cool, funny, etc. To me it's just plain idiotic.