Not criticizing, just asking why people don't wear seat belts.


Tom Garrett 4 years ago

As you probably read In the Roundup two weeks ago, a man towing a small trailer had a head-on collision with another vehicle.

He and his dog flew out of the car and were crushed to death between the other vehicle and the trailer.

In the other vehicle were four men, all belted in. They walked away without a scratch.

It wasn't the first time, was it? It happens all the time. Some poor guy--or gal--has an accident, is thrown from the vehicle, and is either killed or so badly injured that his or her life is changed forever. And even if that doesn't happen, the pain, the suffering, the long hospital stay, and the recovery time are often hard to contemplate.

So I think it's reasonable of us to ask why?

Again, I'm not criticizing; I'd just like to know what people are thinking when they don't use a convenient and effective safety device.

Just so that you know, I wear one. I have worn one ever since the Air Force installed lap belts in my 1960 Mercury free of charge. That was in 1966.

Since then I have had two major accidents, neither of which were my fault or could have been avoided. One of them turned a beautiful pickup into a heap of twisted metal with no left fender, no driver's side door, no driver's door post, and a piece of the seat gone on the driver's side. There wasn't much left of the passenger side of the vehicle either; it was a total loss. You should have seen it.

I walked away without a scratch, but the cop who came to the scene patted me up and down my left side, looking amazed and asking me, "Are you sure you're not hurt?" Lolly and her cousin Fay both walked away unhurt too, but their door was still on and their end of the seat was still intact.


Maybe you know more about this than I do. I'd really like to understand why some people don't use a seat belt.

Go ahead. Educate me. I'd really like to know.


Pat Randall 4 years ago

I use the lap belt part but not the shoulder part. Yes, it is legal I have a letter from my Dr as the shoulder part presses on my pacemaker and the wires that go to my heart. I have worn seat belts from the time they were first put in cars. Then it was only a lap belt and comfortable.


Dan Haapala 4 years ago

One group chose to protect themselves, One victim and their pet did not. .....People don't want to hear this but it's not about the law, it's about personal choice. In this case it goes to those who chose to protect themselves. BUT...why is there a law instead of a choice. The law sends the message that government is smarter than us. It isn't. The survivors could have ignored the law but they chose not to. The loser, or victim, or departed or whatever you want to refer them as....wanted live or die based upon his convictions...not the establishment telling him he had to be safe. He lost this one.....I don't think he was wrong.


Kim Chittick 4 years ago

I agree with Dan, at least to the extent that some poeple consider the wearing of seat belts to be a matter of "personal choice" and that they don't like government "telling them what to do in the privacy of their own vehicles". This is in the same category as the motorcycle helmet law.

However, if one has ever been at an accident site, and seen the carnage that is brought about when occupants of vehicles or motorcycles exercise their "personal choice", one would never again disregard the safety features meant to decrease the extent of injuries. No helmet means that a skull busts open like a melon dropped on the asphalt. No seat belt means that bodies fly around or out of a vehicle like a rag doll.

Most first responders, police, firefighters, paramedics, will tell you that they hate going on a scene when the victims exercised their "personal choice". There are few things less delightful than scraping up brain matter from the asphalt; or hunting around the scene to ensure that all pieces of the dismembered or crushed body have been picked up and sent on to the coroner's lab.

Years ago, I was in a Pontiac Fiero, wearing my seat belt, when I was broadsided on the driver's side by a vehicle running a red light at 92 miles an hour. My car spun 360 degrees, 7 times (skid and tire marks indicated this), a coffee cup that had been in the cup holder in the center console, became a flying projectile and was flung more than 20 feet out the passenger side window that had been blown out. I was very bruised and sore, but alive and walking. Thanks to my seat belt.

Nobody rides in my vehicle without a seat belt, and I will not ride in someone else's vehicle who is not wearing a seat belt. We also ride a motorcycle, and have some very good friends who we have a great time with, however, I will not go on motorcycle rides with them, because they do not wear helmets, and I will not be a part of that.

So, Tom, I agree completely, I do not understand someone not using every precaution possible to protect oneself; and Dan, I am sorry, but I disagree wholeheartedly with your contention that the victim who was crushed and lost his life was merely living his life "based on his own convictions" and simply through the luck of the draw "lost this one". I am sure that the people who had to clean up after his "convictions" were proven wrong, would disagree, as well.


Ronald Hamric 4 years ago

Most of you know my carrer history. Saw enough to fill many books, working the freeways of Orange County. This is one of those perplexing issues. I think the reluctance of some come from precisely as Dan indicates, they chafe under some government mandate as to their own personal safety. Kim brought up a parrallel to the seat belt issue, motorcycle helmet laws. I actually rode with some 1% ers in California who rode sans helmets in spite of that state's mandatory helmet law. Most were reasonably intellegent individuals but they did it because it was their personal expression of "freedom" and also to dare law enforcement to stop them for their violations. Had absolutely nothing to do with the safety issue, everything to do with individual choice. Having seen what I saw on a regular basis I often asked "what the heck are you thinking, riding and not wearing head protection"? Many mentioned that the government permits nationally sanctioned abortion based upon the premise that the government has no right ot tell a woman what to do with her body.Yet that same government turns around and tells folks that they have to protect their bodies by applying safety devices the government determines are necessary . Huge double standard in the eyes of many. A streatch perhaps, but those are the views of some. Also there is the reality that the government could really care less about the safety and welfare of the individuals in this issue, it was done to influence the bottom line of the insurance industry through heavy lobbying on their part.


Pat Randall 4 years ago

At one point in our life my husband and I owned small dirt bikes. I went to buy helmets and found a helmet I thought was funny. I asked the man in the shop if it was legal and would protect my husband. He said yes it was approved then added, if you are going more than 15 MPH no helmet will save you if you land on your head. This was in a motorcycle shop. There are many parts of your body that can be injured and kill you. So why the big deal over a law to wear a helmet? Changing the subject on you Tom. I don't know if it is a law or not. But I have a 2011 Ford Fusion car that doesn't have a cigarette lighter or ashtrays. I was told none of the new cars are going to have them. Does big brother really think he is going to stop me from smoking in my car?


Tom Garrett 4 years ago

"BUT...why is there a law instead of a choice."

Odd! Last night I happened to write down laws I thought should be changed. The first one was laws that over-control people.

I first thought we needed a blanket law to prevent legislators from passing such laws. Then I realized where the problem really lies.

This may surprise you.

The Bill of Rights was intended to protect us from a tyrannical government by specifying what rights belong to the people alone, but it erred. How?

Read this part of the Tenth Amendment:

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Our founding fathers just failed to think it through. They had done a good job of specifying the powers of the federal government, thereby limiting those powers. And they had done some things about limiting the powers of the states in Section 9, but they screwed up in the Bill of Rights.

Here's Section 9 of the Constitution:

Clause 1: Contracts Clause.

"No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility."

Clause 2: Export Clause

"No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports..."

Clause 3: Compact Clause

"No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War..."

See where they screwed up?

They should have been as specific in listed state powers as they were in stating the powers of the federal government. Then the Bill of Rights should have said:

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor delegated to the States, are reserved to the people."

That would have taken the power to make "for your own good" laws out of the hands of the states, which is where most of them are made. It would have required an amendment to the Constitution to have mandatory seat belt laws, mandatory insurance laws, or any of the laws which intrude into personal choice.

We can still change it, you know. Only takes one amendment to the Constitution; it would wipe out all such laws in a single stroke.

As for what Kim says about the injuries that can occur, I absolutely agree that--to me at least--it is not worth taking the chance. But I cannot help feeling that it is, as are so many other things, a matter of freedom.

If we don't do something about such things we'll end up with laws that make people take their vitamin pills.

Any other reasons why people don't wear seat belts? I'm still trying to understand it.


Ronald Hamric 4 years ago

They can actually be an inconvenience if one makes a lot of frequent stops and exit their vehicle, such as delivery persons. Constantly having to buckle and unbuckle can get quite tiresome. After my service in the Marines, I had a job servicing vending machines throughout LA and Orange Counties. The "step van" that I worked from didn't even possess seatbelts as you pretty much drove standing up. Due to the nature of the business, the stops were every 1/4 mile or so. I'm not sure what company policy is, but I think I've seen UPS folks driving in the same conditions.


Pat Randall 4 years ago

Letter carriers are not required to wear seat belts. ARS 28-809 has the rules about seat belts. Someone was kind enough to put that on here for me when I was complaining about the seat belt hurting where my pacemaker is.


Bernice Winandy 4 years ago

Tom, they can't even agree about terms to avoid the fiscal cliff. Do you really think they could agree to amend the Constitution? :-) Just think, a few months after the fiscal cliff we will again be dealing with the debt ceiling.

It is smart to wear a seat belt. But, since no "police" are in the car with you, I guess you can choose not to wear one ------------------- well good luck! Hope you aren't in an accident.

Amusing side, I have a niece who was once was a traffic cop. She use to be amused by the people who would "sneakily" try to put on their seat belts after she had stopped them for a traffice violation. I believe that she always felt she had stopped them for something more serious than a seat belt violation, and I believe she usually decided to ignore the seat belt thing.


Kim Chittick 4 years ago

I am well aware that the whole seat belt/helmet law debate is akin to the gun control discussion. And that people who are opposed to the seat belt/helmet law use the whole "government and insurance lobbyists are infringing on my personal rights of freedom and personal choice" argument. And I will be the first to admit that when the seat belt law was first enacted, I resisted with all that I was worth. My arguments against wearing it were varied and "valid"...the shoulder belt chokes me because I am too belts wrinkle my is too inconvenient to have to put it on and take it off every time I get in and out of the car...and the best one, latching and unlatching the belts breaks my nails!!

The fact of the matter is that cars now are smaller and faster, made of more composite materials and less metal, there are more vehicles on the road and people are in more of a hurry. The risk of injury or death has risen exponentially with the increase of vehicles on the road, and the decrease of good solid heavy duty vehicle wrapped around ones behind. We all have to admit that the vehicles of yesteryear were big, solid pieces of metallic engineering. Why, I and my siblings used to call my Mom's big ol Buick, the tank. I remember times when there would be 8 or 10 of us kids in the back seat and still have room for a couple of dogs!! We would take turns laying across the back "shelf" under the back window, or would be hanging over the front seat over Dad's shoulder. Those cars were not typically driven at 75 and 80 (or more) miles an hour.

As I have gotten older and seen a bit more of life and death, and realize how quickly and easily life can be lost, I personally do as much as I can to protect myself and those I love. Seat belts are one of those precautions.

It is my opinion that using the argument that you are not going to wear your belt because it is an infringement of your rights, is petty, childish and self defeating.


John Lemon 4 years ago

Is there still something called the "general welfare"? Is the welfare of the group not something that should be contrasted and weighted along with the welfare of the individual? My feeling is that one of the trends that has led to the social dislocations that we can all see is the weakening of the value placed upon the group and the increased value placed on the values of the idividual. That trend can be felt in many if not most of the discussions on this site. To be more specific, when considering seatbelts or helmets what are the ramifications on the society? If I am not wearing a seatbelt and I am killed or seriously injured what segments of society are affected? Same with helmets. Another: if I commit suicide, what are the ramifications. Yes, it is my right to do so, but what about the first responders, relatives, family members, clean-up crews, etc. What is best for the collective group is not always what I may want. To decide where the line should be drawn is not always easy or simple and the line may change over time.


Pat Randall 4 years ago

How about trying to get out of a burning car? Why has no one mentioned air bags? I am short and have to have my seat way forward, so if that bag hits me, no seat belt in the world would save me. You all should have seen my grandsons face and head from the airbag in his wreck down by Roosevelt Lake and he is much taller than me. The wreck wiped out the side of his car. His injuries to his head were from the air bag. Had to be flown to Phx. Carry your medical records with you. Because he had a concussion and his head swelling, they gave him a blood thinner not knowing he was a bleeder. One nightmare after another.


Kim Chittick 4 years ago

Of course there are always extenuating circumstances, a burning car, a car about to go off a cliff, or sink in a lake, or get hit by a train. But the odds are most likely in favor of a basic collision, in which case, a seat belt is still your best measure of safety. I too am very short. There are many cars which are very difficult for me to drive, as I cannot comfortably reach the pedals, even with the seat all the way forward. And, yes, I do worry about the air bag and the possibility that I could be more injured from the air bag deploying, than from the collision.

However, I figure that I could also get hit by a falling piano...So, I protect myself the best that I can and with every option available, and I pray.

I've another quick anecdote that relates to the point that Mr. Lemon made regarding first responders and the things that they may have to deal with. Years ago, I was a dispatcher for a small police department. A 911 call came in reporting a possible suicide. The officers on duty rolled to the location that had been mentioned in the victim's note. The victim had left his home early that morning wearing a hooded jacket, and with his gun, and walked into the woods. He didn't go far. Upon arrival back at the station, the officers mentioned how relieved they were that the victim had put his hood on. At first I was perplexed, until someone saw the look on my face and explained that with the hood covering the back of his head, there was less skull and brain matter to search for on the forest floor, as most of it had been contained within the hood.

While I recognize that we cannot all live our lives on a minute by minute basis being concerned about how our actions may affect or impact others, doesn't it behoove each of us to be cognizant of our impact on our surroundings and loved ones. And if by wearing a seat belt or a helmet, we can avoid the possibility of our loved ones burying us before it is our time, isn't it worth it? Rather than throwing a childish tantrum and stomping our feet and saying, I'm not wearing a seat belt or helmet because the government or the police or the insurance companies think I should!!


Pat Randall 4 years ago

Kim, I had a Ford pickup that instead of having to move the seat forward you could push a button and the gas pedal and brake came back to you. It was wonderful. But my back got so bad I couldn't climb into the pickup and had to go to a low car I could get into it. I couldn't find a car that was equipped that way so my face is in the air bag again.


Kim Chittick 4 years ago

We also have a Ford pickup that has the extending pedals and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that feature!!! It is kind of funny because it is a big F-350 dually super duty monster. But, I can have the seat back a reasonable distance from the steering wheel, and still reach the pedals comfortably without my bosom getting caught in the steering wheel. And without fearing that the airbag will destroy my head in the event of a collision!

I agree that it is very strange not to be able to find the extending pedals on any other cars. That is a very desirable feature.


John Lemon 4 years ago

KIm; Good concepts and examples. Now, if only we could get people to extend their views and consider wider ramifications of specifics. Is it called inductive reasoning? So many of us nowadays are stuck at the egocentric level that I sometimes wish that I could shout,"Lets do the difficult thing and think". It is difficult ! Happy New Year !!


Bernice Winandy 4 years ago

Going back to Pat and airbags. I agree these airbags are a mixed bag. No pun intended. My husband and I take that 55 and alive driving course ever so often. At one of these sessions the instructor pointed out a problem involving the airbags. He said that if you hold your hands on the steering wheel at the ten to three position, you risk having your arms broken by the airbags in a collision. He said that you should hold your hands at the bottom of the steering wheel and pointed out that the new steering wheels have openings designed for you to place your hands. I have tried doing as he instructed, and I have found it very awkward. It is hard to break a long held habit.

By the way I recommend the fifty five and alive driving course. It does make you aware of problems brought on by age. They also recommend using seat belts. :-)


Pat Randall 4 years ago

Bernice, The biggest problems I have found as I get older and driving is the younger people forget there are other people on the road. Half the people in Payson don't use turn signals, or if they do they are already half way turned. The rest have a cigarette in one hand and a cell phone in the other.

Everyone should have to get thier license renewed at least every five years and take a driving test at that time. Last time I had mine renewed MVD didn't have any traffic law books in the building. I think they were very important as traffic laws change.

I have driven lots of vehicles, from a tractor pulling a hay wagon to a cattle truck full of bulls to the auction in Phoenix. Have been hit by a bicycle, motorcycle, and a few cars. None of which was my fault. Tried to dodge most of them and have dodged a few others.
Most at the intersection of 260 and 87 with people turning right on red lights. One crash I had was on a dirt bike on a dirt road going slow and my front wheel hit a small rock. No other vehicles in sight. Boy was I surprised when I landed on my rear in the middle of the road.


Tom Garrett 4 years ago

"Due to the nature of the business, the stops were every 1/4 mile or so. I'm not sure what company policy is, but I think I've seen UPS folks..."

Back in the days of home deliveries, milk trucks were like that too. The driver was standing up and the truck was high enough to stand up inside.

"I believe she usually decided to ignore the seat belt thing."

If I were a cop, and I thought I could get away with it, that's what I would do.

"Those cars were not typically driven at 75 and 80 (or more) miles an hour."

Our old 34 Packard rolled along the roads at a steady 45 mph. Beautiful car. Regal green. Straight 8. Two metal covered spares on the front fenders. Huge back seat with a jump seat facing backward and the rear center armrest in the regular seat. Cigarette lighters. Hanging grips. The whole works.

"It is my opinion that using the argument that you are not going to wear your belt because it is an infringement of your rights, is petty, childish and self defeating."

Kim, for once I think you got something backward. I don't think people refuse to wear a seat belt because it is an infringement of rights; I think they don't wear one because they don't want to, and they feel that forcing them to do it would be an infringement of their rights.

"Why has no one mentioned air bags?"

I have the passenger side bag shut off in my car. If I had the time I would disable the other one. A seat belt and shoulder harness is all we need. The rest of that crap is just a way of making more money.

"And if by wearing a seat belt or a helmet, we can avoid the possibility of our loved ones burying us before it is our time, isn't it worth it?"

Kim, you make a good point there. I take very good care of myself, much better care than I would if I didn't have to care for Lolly.

"Kim, I had a Ford pickup that instead of having to move the seat forward you could push a button and the gas pedal and brake came back to you.'

Yoiks! That's like having the mountain come to Mohammed.

"And without fearing that the airbag will destroy my head in the event of a collision!"

Hm-m-m. Never thought of that. Maybe that's why I drive with my seat so far back. My arms are extended quite a bit, much more than most people would enjoy, I think. I always knew there had to be a reason for it. :-)

"...I sometimes wish that I could shout..."

John, you just haven't seen the wall signs or bumpers stickers that say....


"the instructor pointed out a problem involving the airbags."

If this were a true democracy, where laws were written by and for the people, those %$#@! things would be optional. Why should I have to pay for something I cannot use for Lolly because she is too short, and I do not need for myself because I am always buckled in?

"It does make you aware of problems brought on by age."

I'm inclined to agree, but will never take the course. I am all too %$#@! aware of the %$#@! problems of %$#@! old %$#@! age. :-)


Tom Garrett 4 years ago

"How about trying to get out of a burning car?"

I don't think it would be a problem.

David used to work at Whispering Hope Ranch. One night, as he was driving home after a snow storm, he started down a low hill on a narrow side road just off the ranch. The road was clear but with little patches of snow here and there, so he was crawling, way under 20. He's that kind of driver.

At the bottom of the slope the road inclined slightly to the left, but Arizona road building being what it is the road banked to the right instead of to the left as it would have in almost all other states. Even though he was barely crawling, he hit a place where snow on the side of the road had melted during the day and the patch of meltwater had turned into black ice.

The car started to slide. David is a good driver. He did everything right. Foot off the gas, do not hit the brakes, turn into the skid, everything. But the car just kept on sliding, and started to accelerate on the downward slope.

First thing he knew it slammed sideways into the snow that had been piled along the side of the road, twisted around straight, went over the snow, came down on the other side, and flipped over.

David found himself hanging upside down, but it only took one slap at the belt to release it. He got out and watched another car crawling down the hill, but this one was lower built and when it hit the snowbank it bounced off and went straight.

When it hit dry road it stopped. It was a woman who worked at the ranch, so she gave him a drive to Payson, where I picked him up. He called the county sheriff's office as soon as he got to Payson, then he called me.

In the meantime, before I got to Payson, a depity showed up and gave David a ticket for leaving the scene of an accident. What nonsense. What was he supposed to do? Stand there after midnight on a narrow side road at near zero? If that woman hadn't come along--the last person to leave the ranch that night--he'd have had a long hike back to 260.

Anyway, the seat belt popped loose very easily, even though David was suspended in it.


Kim Chittick 4 years ago

Tom, interesting point you made, "... I take very good care of myself, much better care than I would if I didn't have to care for Lolly." I have often said that same thing only about my husband. Although, I suppose that a better way for me to put it is that now that I have him, I have so much more to lose if something happened to me. When I was younger and single, and couldn't sleep, I thought nothing of going out and sitting on the beach at 2-3 o'clock in the morning. Now, I shudder at the very thought. Amazing how a true deep, abiding love changes ones thought process.

I wish each and every one of you a joyous and Blessed New Year!!!


Tom Garrett 4 years ago

Thanks, Kim.

My brother Frank married Jerry, a woman who was 34 when he was 28. All their lives they scrapped like cats and dogs.

Unlike the rest of us, Billy, Charlie, and me--the kid--who all took after Mom, Frank took after Daddy, who was, so I am told, rather cold. Jerry was no room heater either.

I remember that when we were traveling across the country to our assignment in California I drove 450 miles out of my way up to Michigan with Lolly and six month old David in our 1952 Studebaker. Frank had rented a motel room for us, saying there was no room in the house for overnight guests, and Jerry, while buying potatoes to bake (I drove her to the store because Frank had gone to a footbal game) bought the exact number of potatoes as there were people. At a time when the Holiday Inn cost $7 a night, Frank got me a place that cost $28; it had mahogany early American furnishings. That was nice of him, but I had to pay the 28 bucks.

About two years ago, when Jerry was 94 and Frank 88, a tree fell on their summer home in Michigan during a wind storm, smashing a hole through the roof and one wall while they were in staying there (they spent most of the year in Miami Beach). The event was so disturbing to Jerry that she died (exact diagnosis I never heard) on a Tuesday. On Thursday, Frank followed her.

In all my life it never occured to me that Frank, the odd man out of four boys, the multi-millionaire vice president of Proctor and Gamble, the cool incisive businessman, had a caring bone in his body.

It just goes to show you how wrong you can be.


Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.