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Why would anyone not bother to wear a seatbelt?

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: March 16, 2014

14/03/14 Operation Safedrive Operation Safedrive in Hulland Ward

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THIS week I went to watch a police operation taking place focusing on road safety. It's national seat belt week apparently and, in response to this, a team of officers pitched up at a village petrol station and kept watch for people not wearing belts.

Two professional spotters, in plain clothes, were stood at either end of the main road with walkie talkies reporting anything they saw that they felt was amiss.

It wasn't just seatbelt offences they were looking out for, but people using mobile phones, people driving too fast, and possible vehicle defects to be investigated by a team of experts that had joined the officers.

In just half an hour of standing watching this all happening a staggering six people were spotted not wearing their belts. This, to my mind, is bonkers.

How, in this day and age, can anyone get into a car and not automatically pull their belt on. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels genuinely awkward sitting in a seat without one.

Setting aside the horrors that can take place if you're unfortunate enough to be involved in a crash while not wearing a seat belt, I wonder more specifically how they can tolerate the incessant alarm that goes off in modern cars if they are aware you've not done the old clunk click.

Volvos are very good at letting you know, as are Mercedes models and heaven help you if you forget to belt up in a Citroen. The alarm that chimes away is like a mild form of torture.

Sometimes I pick up my mechanic and take him to my car when it needs service or repairs and he never wears a seatbelt. He refuses to. He seems to be able to tune out this horrid alarm call but it drives me mad.

Years ago, probably even back in the 1980s, I can remember attending car shows and the safety organisations would bring along a giant frame fitted with a car seat that was on wheels and runners.

You would sit in the chair, put your seatbelt on and then hurtle down the sloping rails until it came to a sudden halt at the bottom when it hit a lump of steel.

This was supposed to illustrate a crash of probably around 5mph and show the forces even at a low speed that your belt was pulling you back from. Where are these machines now?

It's not often the police get out to carry out these spotting oprations so it regularly goes un-noticed if a driver or passenger hasn't belted up - but if they'd had a go in that old contraption, I bet they would in the future.

Cars are safer than they were in the 1980s, that's an irrefutable fact but the forces involved when one comes to a sudden stop haven't changed a bit. If you have a crash with a belt on you might survive it. If you don't have a belt on you'll probably die.

Seriously, for the sake of a few seconds at the start of your journey and then for the sake of having to wear a device the vast majority of motorists have got more than used to over the years, put your belt on when you're in a vehicle.

And encourage your passenger to do the same. Which reminds me, I need to have words with my mechanic...

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