The night before I was due to return to Wheaton from winter break, I was involved in a head on collision with another driver, who had crossed over to the opposite side of the road.
Fortunately, no one in the car was seriously injured. The only thing preventing any extremely serious, potentially fatal, injuries was a simple strap of leather. Seat belts can often be overlooked as an insignificant safety measure, but their importance cannot be stressed enough. Even if it is a short trip of a few miles, do not take the chance. Some people I know would argue that they are careful drivers; but while this may be true, that does not always prevent other drivers on the road from making mistakes, as was the case in this accident. Additionally, even if the drivers are traveling slowly, the consequences can be extreme. Neither of the cars in my accident were going extremely fast, but the collision was still devastating.
Before my accident, wearing a seat belt was always almost a secondary thought. It was just a part of the “routine” I performed when starting my car, but it was rarely a conscious act, almost ingrained in my muscle memory. If I forgot to wear it on a short trip, or just did not wear it, then it would not weigh on my conscience. I had heard the lectures given in Drivers Ed, and had seen some of the disturbing commercials, but I never thought that it would be a decision which would directly affect me.
It is different now. Every time I get into my car, and strap in, it reminds me of the seemingly inconsequential decision that saved my life. I did receive some minor injuries caused by the seat belt, but compared to what might have happened, I was immensely thankful.
I am sure most people are aware of the “Click It or Ticket” slogan that has been circulating the United States for almost a decade. Most states require seat belts to be worn, and the maximum fine of a first time offense is usually between twenty and thirty dollars. But the purpose of those fines are not just an excuse to write a ticket, they are simply to persuade drivers to buckle up. And although seat belt use has increased, it is estimated that only 85 percent of drivers now wear a seat belt, meaning one out of every seven drivers still do not.
So please, remember to wear a seat belt. It is a simple measure, but it saves lives.