Be smart — buckle up

You know that strap that hangs at the side of your car seat? It’s called a seat belt. Please wear it. Do itSeatbelt
for me, do it for your loved ones.

My father died when he was 40 and I was 8, all because he thought that strap in his Peugeot was some kind of decoration. He was ejected from his car on a rural road in Zambia. Back then, seat belt safety messages were rare or non-existent. These days, everyone’s been told the importance of wearing seat belts, yet so many people don’t bother. Take, for example, the backseat passengers in last weekend’s terrible accident in Pennsylvania.

The lone survivor from a van in the weekend
accident that claimed the lives of six people was wearing a seat belt
— and that could be the reason he’s alive today, Erie County Coroner
Lyell Cook said.

Seven Michigan residents, including 28-year-old
Nitin Gupta, were traveling in a minivan through Erie County on their
way to Niagara Falls on Saturday afternoon when the van crossed a grass
median on Interstate 90 and struck an oncoming car.

Six of the seven were killed on impact. Gupta, the lone survivor in the van, was the only passenger wearing a seat belt.

Driver Kaushik Deb also was wearing a seat belt, but was crushed in the wreckage, Cook said.

don’t know how much of a difference seat belts would have made to the
other passengers due to the damage of the vehicle," Cook said. "But
this is proof positive that the use of seat belts and restraints
certainly increases your chances of surviving a crash of any kind." [Link]

[More on the accident here. NOTE: Donations for the families of those
killed in the crash may be sent to Syntel Accident Fund, 525
E. Big Beaver Toad, Suite 300, Troy, MI 48032.]

I wrote a column about the importance of seat belts several years ago, after the tragic death of  NFL  linebacker Derrick Thomas.

Three years ago, when Princess Diana was
killed in a car accident, I thought it would teach people the importance of seat belts. But I must have been sniffing glue.

People have all kinds of reasons for not
wearing seat belts. Some don’t like seat-belt laws. They don’t like the government telling them what to do, even if it’s for their own good. If the government made sex a requirement, they’d give it up. At least for a day or two.

Some cite the rare times when a seat belt
has actually injured people in an accident. That’s like giving up using toilets because every now and then a snake slithers out of one.

Some are just too lazy to wear a seat belt.
They have enough trouble dialing their cell phones.

A few years ago, I was surprised to see a
friend speeding without wearing a seat belt. I thought, "Hey buddy, don’t be in such a hurry to meet your maker. Your wife and children need you. Who else is going to change their lightbulbs?"

I always wear a seat belt. I’m enjoying my
life too much to take any chances with it.

Photo by Whatsername

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through and You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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