Some consumers find seatbelts uncomfortable. I am one of those consumers. In addition, should there be an accident, I don’t want to be trapped in the car. I believe it should be the driver’s or passenger’s option whether to use seatbelts.
My wife disagrees. She claims it is not my choice as a driver or passenger. She is obsessive and insists I “buckle up” when the car is moving. As a driver or front-seat passenger, I am confident I am not impairing anyone else’s safety by leaving my seat belts unbuckled.
We have never missed “Ask Jerry” since we moved to this area. Previously when we lived in the mid-west, we also enjoyed your column. So, on the topic of seat belts, please settle this argument.
– Bob T., Kittery, Me.
In my opinion, your wife is correct for multiple reasons.
First of all, laws require the use of seat belts in 49 of our 50 states plus Washington, DC. The exception, a partial one, is across the river from you. That would be the state of New Hampshire. It happens to be the only state where seat belt laws are more flexible than the rest of the United States. Accordingly, if you drive across the Piscataqua River and notice yourself in Portsmouth, N.H., you can legally proceed without seat belts as long as you are 18 years of age or older. The percentage of drivers and front-seat passengers who use their seat belts is considerably higher nationwide than in New Hampshire. Where legal variations exist in some states and parts of Canada, those distinctions pertain to children, back-seat passengers, etc. For the most part, drivers and front-seat passengers are mandated by law to buckle their seat belts.
Meanwhile, even more compelling than the seat belt laws is the issue of safety. Should comfort be your concern, purchase a car with comfortable seat belts. Regarding an accident where you are trapped in the car, allow me to respond this way. You cannot predict the kind of accident that might occur. Based on accident statistics, you are most likely to survive and remain less damaged when your seat belts are fastened.
I will now address your comment about impairing the safety of other car occupants when you don’t buckle your seat belts. While you may be confident other occupants’ safety is uncompromised when your seat belts are unbuckled, I strongly differ with your viewpoint. Should there be an accident and you are killed or injured as a result of your seat belts remaining unbuckled, that means you are unavailable to assist other occupants in your car.
Whether you are in Maine, New Hampshire, or anywhere else, please buckle your seatbelts 100 percent of the time. Prevention is easier than correction.
Jerry Romansky is a syndicated columnist. Readers are invited to write in English or Spanish: Ask Jerry, Post Office Box 42444, Washington DC 20015. E-mail email@example.com and (because of spam situation) write the name of your newspaper in subject heading. Questions of popular interest are answered in the column. Unpublished letters cannot be answered individually.