The Seat Belt Song
In the Seventies, no one wore seat belts, and there were no laws enforcing their usage. They were in our cars, but they were kind of in the way, so sometimes, we tucked them in the seat’s crevice — you know, the gap where we poked our little hands and fingers foraging for spare change and lost items.
I recently recalled an afternoon from my childhood. Mom zoomed my sister and me around town running errands, and for whatever reason, I decided to actually buckle myself into the back seat’s middle seat belt. Then, I relentlessly heckled both of them from the back of the car.
“I sure hope we aren’t in an accident, because I would be the only survivor,” I announced in the very irritating and taunting tone of an 11-year-old child. “Audrey, are you wearing your seat belt?”
My sister, about fourteen at the time, ignored me as if I were invisible and voiceless. She gazed out the window and didn’t respond at all.
“Mom, are you wearing your seat belt?” I asked loudly.
“No Amber. Now be quiet, I am trying to concentrate on driving, and you are distracting me,” Mom said, at her wit’s end.
At 11, I was not capable of being quiet, so I made-up and started singing “The Seat Belt Song.”
“I’m wearing my seat belt. I’m wearing my seat belt. Audrey’s not wearing her seat belt. Mom’s not wearing her seat belt…” And the song went on and on and on, but the universe has a strange sense of humor and loves to put smart-alecky kids in their place from time to time.
After a while, I got bored and decided to unfasten my seat belt and return to a normal state only to realize that the metal clasp wouldn’t unlatch. I tried and tried. No luck. I panicked. As I wiggled around, the automatic retracting/sizing mechanism pulled even tighter across my lap.
“Mom, I’m stuck in my seat belt and can’t get out!” I said frantically.
Mom and Audrey had totally toned me out, and no one responded to my pleas.
“I’m not joking, I’m really stuck!”
No reply. Dead silence in the car.
But after several efforts to convince them I was truly trapped, Mom finally pulled over and verified I was stuck, and then my situation became funny.
They laughed, and then my sister began singing a little ditty of her own.
“Amber’s stuck in the seat belt. Amber’s stuck in the seat belt.”
Mom drove to an automotive shop, and a nice mechanic with a screw driver finally freed me from my back seat captivity. And then Mom pointed a finger in my face and said firmly, “Now don’t put that damn seat belt on again! Do you hear me?”
By the eighties, more and more of my family and friends began wearing seat belts on a regular basis. On a warm night in 1983, I picked up two friends in my blue Volkswagen Beetle and started to drive to a nearby pizza restaurant. I was the only one wearing a seat belt. Suddenly, a drunk driver pulled out in front of my car, and we collided violently in the middle of a busy intersection. I walked away with just sore muscles and a short-lived fear of driving. However, my two girlfriends were tossed about the car like pinballs. One was hurt very badly and transported to the hospital in an ambulance. Since that accident, I have never driven or ridden in a car without buckling-up.
My husband and I go round and round about the topic of mandating the use of certain safety and protective equipment. I say, “Yes, yes, yes, we must protect people from themselves and their stupid decisions.”
My husband, who always wears his seat belt, says, “No.” He feels adults should have the option to use or decline using devices that could potentially save their lives, but that laws should exist to protect children. In fact, he doesn’t think that motorcyclists should be required to wear helmets either, although he would choose to wear one if he owned or operated a Harley.
But he doesn’t argue with the statistics.
Seat belts save thousands of lives each year, and most drivers and passengers killed in crashes are unrestrained. And seat belts dramatically reduce the risk of serious injuries occurring. They prevent drivers and passengers from being ejected during a collision.
So, I just don’t understand why a person would opt not to wear their seat belt. It literally takes two seconds to buckle up.
I’ve accepted the fact that I can’t sway other people’s behavior by citing statistics and talking to them about risks. As for me… “I’m wearing my seat belt. I’m wearing my seat belt.”