Editorial

Too many drivers still unbuckled

Monday, February 6, 2012

Seatbelts have been standard equipment in cars for nearly 50 years, but too many of us leave them unbuckled.

It took a combination of nagging and tough law enforcement, but an estimated 85 percent of Nebraska drivers wore safety belts in 2010, according to the Nebraska Department of Roads.

The rest find all sorts of reasons not to buckle up -- claustrophobia, fear of being trapped in the vehicle, personal rights -- but the statistics aren't on their side.

Yes, there are isolated instances when drivers have died because they were trapped by their seatbelts, but 68 percent of Nebraska car accident deaths in 2010 happened because the victim didn't wear a seat belt.

Unfortunately, the trend seems to be continuing two years later, and the number of fatalities is up. Twenty people have died since Jan. 1, compared to eight in the same period in 2011.

Two recent local fatalities involved drivers who didn't wear seat belts, and another is drawing attention because it involved a policeman on his way to work.

The 37-year-old officer was known for taking a stand against seat belts, and paid for it with his life when he was involved in an accident while commuting along Interstate 80 from York to his job in Lincoln.

"This is a topic that we will be talking about in our command staff meeting," Lincoln Police Chief Jim Peschong told the Journal Star.

Nebraska has recently implemented laws encouraging the use of ignition interlocks to prevent drivers with DUI convictions from starting their cars.

The United States once went so far as to require seatbelts to be buckled before allowing cars to start, but there was such as uproar that the regulation was quickly repealed.

Since then, all sorts of technological advances have become part of the driving experience -- airbags, antilock braking system, traction control, tire pressure monitoring, adaptive cruise control and radar collision avoidance, lane warning and other equipment.

Perhaps it is time to revisit the ignition interlock issue again.

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  • We should make the government make us wear helmets too!! How about reduce the speed limit to 25 MPH?? Heck lets have the government designate driver to haul us around? One great big nanny state I say!

    -- Posted by remington81 on Mon, Feb 6, 2012, at 2:47 PM
  • I've never had any issues with buckling my seat-belt, so hearing people complain about regulations requiring people to do so and seeing them get so antsy to the point of saying what remington81 is saying has always come across to me as stupid and whiny and various other adjectives that I can't say in polite company.

    -- Posted by bjo on Mon, Feb 6, 2012, at 4:25 PM
  • It's a government regulation.... which some say is unfair. "Let us die if we wish!"

    I have found that beating your head against a brick wall rarely results in anything other than hurting yourself.

    I am all about voicing my opinion when I think the government has overstepped it's boundaries. The thing about this is that the mandated point here is a confirmed life saving procedure. You DON'T have to pay to install seat belts in vehicles that weren't manufactured with them; it doesn't cost a dime to use an apparatus that already exists.

    What really get's on my nerves is that when you have an accident and you're thrown from the vehicle or through the windshield, your worries are over (or they've just begun), but your loved ones and those that come across your carcass are affected.

    I've said this time and time again, "It's not all about you." but in this day and age, it would seem that the particular mindset is indeed.... "How does this effect (benefit) me?"

    It's a shame, BUT, one might consider it Natural Selection. Those not savvy enough to stay alive will weed themselves out of the gene pool. Perhaps it's not a bad thing. It does lend favor to a promising future.

    -- Posted by Nick Mercy on Mon, Feb 6, 2012, at 6:03 PM
  • no, its about our right as american citizens to choose for ourselves. if we want to cash out in a car wreck then why can't we?

    -- Posted by BTWinecleff on Mon, Feb 6, 2012, at 6:32 PM
  • I'm from another state and shake my head everytime I read about someone back home, southwest Nebraska getting killed from no seatbelt. There is a reason race car drivers wear them! I ride motorcycle and when the helmet law came out I was totally against it, however it was explained to me like this. If you lay in a coma as a vegetable for the rest of your life and have no insurance, or the amount you have has exceeded your coverage, the tax payers pick up the tab, and just another reason for insurance rates to go up for the rest of us.

    I'm very aware that there is many who feel differently, even some in my family, so be it, but this just made sense to me and now I have no problem with a helmet.

    As harsh and direct as Nick Mercy's last paragraph is, I have to agree. Long live the gray soft nervous tissue between your ears.

    -- Posted by Keda46 on Mon, Feb 6, 2012, at 7:22 PM
  • Nick, I have seen many of your posts and they often times amuse me. You have a way of saying things that drive home a point but add enough humor to lure people into reading them in completion.

    I must say that you truly hit the nail on the head. I didn't care for seatbelts myself not so long ago, but after a recent event involving my child, I found it easy to remember.

    I fully agree, if you don't want to wear your seatbelts then I feel sympathy for those you have injured both mentally and emotionally. I can't say I have compassion for those that find themselves either mortally injured or possibly worse, in a state that leaves them unable to care for themselves, which puts further burden on those that love them. It is a selfish act to not wear your seatbelts. Not such a far stretch from those that gamble or drink their family's money away. The difference would be that the family could remove themselves from the source of their trouble in the latter two scenarios. When you find yourself taking care of a loved one, walking away from that burden becomes a moral if not ethical issue.

    A few seconds of your time to buckle up versus burdening your loved ones with emotional distraught and financial impossibilities seems like a pretty easy choice to me.

    Sandra M

    -- Posted by Sandra M on Mon, Feb 6, 2012, at 7:34 PM
  • "no, its about our right as american citizens to choose for ourselves. if we want to cash out in a car wreck then why can't we?"

    I dont know anyone who wants to die in an accident. But if you do, I'm sure there are easier ways of going about it.

    Though don't let that stop you.

    -- Posted by bberry on Tue, Feb 7, 2012, at 7:31 AM
  • I agree with bberry on that. Let em decide for themselves! The more people that make stupid decisions, the less stupid decision makers there will be. Like I said, thin out the gene pool. If one does something stupid, like not buckling up, just to make a point..... it's still stupid. BUT, in the end, the loved ones will only be affected by the passing on of the "less savvy" for a short period of time.... soon the memory will fade as the everyday grind takes back over and alas, you get your way and make a point..... which was what again? Oh yes, "not buckling up is my choice and may I rest in peace (pieces)"

    Shout out bberry! Tell em how it is. You have my support on choosing the right to remain unshackled.

    -- Posted by Nick Mercy on Tue, Feb 7, 2012, at 12:46 PM
  • While seat-belt use may save some people in certain kinds of traffic accidents, there is ample evidence that in other kinds, people have been more seriously injured and even killed only because they used seat belts. Some people have been saved from death in certain kinds of accidents only because a seat belt was not used.

    The state has no authority to subject people to death and injury in certain kinds of traffic accidents just because it hopes others will be saved in other kinds of accidents merely by chance. The state has no authority to take chances with a person's body, the ultimate private property.

    -- Posted by remington81 on Tue, Feb 7, 2012, at 2:27 PM
  • *

    And yet, no seat belts on public transportation including school buses.

    -- Posted by Mickel on Tue, Feb 7, 2012, at 4:02 PM
  • I am sure there have been more people saved from seat belts than have been hurt by them.

    As far as public transportation not having them, go ahead and tell the officer that if you get pulled over and see how far it gets you.

    -- Posted by bberry on Tue, Feb 7, 2012, at 4:42 PM
  • I would be interested in links to "ample evidence" of persons being killed due to seat belt use. I would not consider a half dozen or so incidents as being "ample evidence".

    -- Posted by doodle bug on Wed, Feb 8, 2012, at 12:56 PM
  • www.anapolschwartz.com/practices

    Try this out. I hunted for the "seatbelts kill" website and came across this, thinking for sure that I would find derogatory issues, coming from an injury lawyer firm, and basically, it states that almost 60% of vehicle related deaths are related to unrestrained occupants. 73% of ejected occupants are killed, a whopping 1% of restrained passengers are ejected and that leads to seatbelt malfunction. It didn't really say how many lives could be spared by NOT wearing seatbelts however.

    I'll continue my search for damning evidence relating to the perils of properly securing oneself.

    -- Posted by Nick Mercy on Wed, Feb 8, 2012, at 2:49 PM
  • I have a feeling all the research in the world will be a waist of time except for a few of us who are interested. I think it will be like the warning on the side of a pack of cigarettes, people who smoke could have the warning tattooed on their foreheads, but they would still smoke.

    -- Posted by Keda46 on Wed, Feb 8, 2012, at 9:03 PM
  • I don't think "ample evidence" of the dangers of wearing seatbelts exists.

    Keda46.... That is a great comparison by the way.

    -- Posted by Nick Mercy on Wed, Feb 8, 2012, at 10:28 PM
  • Nick, I hope you didnt waste too much time looking for the evidence. My remark was meant to be sarcastic (difficult to convey that in the written word). I, also, do not believe the evidence exists.

    -- Posted by doodle bug on Thu, Feb 9, 2012, at 1:36 PM
  • No..... I actually put about 10 minutes into it just to see if there was some abstract off the wall statistics posted out there.

    Ironically, on the world wide web, one can honestly find several websites that state the sun rises in the west and sets in the east..... I couldn't even find so much as a blood thirsty injury lawyer firm that would make the claim that "making it click" was dangerous.

    Just a personal experiment really. I can't believe the garbage that's presented as fact, that one can obtain on the net.

    -- Posted by Nick Mercy on Thu, Feb 9, 2012, at 4:13 PM
  • Libertarian view; STAY OUT OF MY CAR, I DO WHAT I WANT!!!

    Conservative view; I personally buckle up, exhaustive studies have proven it saves lives.

    Liberal view; Oh praise thou great government, make everyone buckle up.

    -- Posted by Dudley Dawson on Thu, Feb 9, 2012, at 8:14 PM
  • Survivalist view: Don't eat yellow snow.

    -- Posted by Nick Mercy on Thu, Feb 9, 2012, at 11:22 PM
  • Nick, you simply slay me.

    -- Posted by Sandra M on Fri, Feb 10, 2012, at 11:40 PM
  • Watch out where the huskies go, and don't you eat that yellow snow

    [ Lyrics from: Frank Zappa

    -- Posted by Keda46 on Sat, Feb 11, 2012, at 3:42 PM
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