The run-up to this Memorial Day weekend is rife with roadside lighted signs reminding us to buckle up, and to threaten us with tickets if we do not. I am, perhaps, the world's most reluctant seat belt user, buckling in about 3 in 10 times I get behind the wheel. Every holiday weekend when the "click it or ticket" radio commercials play and the roadside signs appear, I get more conscientious.
What is it going to take for me to be a consistent seat-belt user? I have been ticketed once for failing to use my seat belt; I was appropriately contrite and improved my usage for a few weeks. I even thanked the officer for the $10.00 fine.
I saw a video on one of those outrageous video shows where an unbuckled cab driver had a collision at about 35 miles per hour, and his dash-cam showed him thrown into the back seat at that relatively low speed. That scared me, especially since I weigh a shade over 200 pounds and my three year old daughter rides far more often with me than she does her diligent buckler of a mother. Now, every time "click it or ticket" time rolls around, that video replays in my head and I repent for a while.
I had a very close up view of a fatal car wreck one afternoon when the pickup in front of me was "t-boned" by a teenage driver, and the pick-up was not wearing his seat belt. He was knocked unconscious and while lying in the floor board on the passenger side of the truck, the gas tank exploded. I was able to run up to the truck in time to see that he was not moving, but only about two seconds before flames engulfed the cab of the truck and then immediately reached heights of 30 feet. I do not think he ever knew that he burned to death.
I drive frequently by the location of a tragic school bus accident that happened in Huntsville, Alabama a few months ago where several high school students were killed when the bus was forced over the rail of an overpass by a careless, passing teenage driver; the accident sparked a still ongoing debate whether seat belts should be required in school buses.
My little family plans to attend the Alabama Jubilee at Point Mallard Park in Decatur this weekend. Every Memorial Day weekend hot air balloons from all over the nation converge on Decatur, and the entire weekend is wondrous as the balloons fill the local skies in a series of races. The park hosts a 'balloon glow' each Memorial Day Saturday night as the balloon pilots fire up their tethered crafts to expand their balloons in the dusk. It is truly a sight, especially for the kids. I wonder how many of those thousands who come to Decatur this weekend will survive unharmed from a highway accident, or will escape the weekend untouched by the injury or death of a friend or relative.
Obviously, examples of fatalities or avoidable, life-halting injuries are easy to find for everyone. This weekend, I intend to be a faithful seat belt user. I hope that everyone else does, too. We could all do with some good news as we remember our war dead without unnecessarily adding to the tragedies of life. Hold someone you love accountable for using their seat belts. Better to be a gentle, loving nag than to be a grieving, lonely mourner. Real friends will take your concern to heart.
WORLD - AN EDGE IN MY VOICE
Copyright © 2010 GreatMinds
Click It Or Die
Copyright © 2010 GreatMinds
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