Wednesday, August 22, 2007

buckle up

I was once driving home in Toronto & stopped at a red light just in time to look over & see a father slowing down his minivan with his very young daughter in the front seat. She was probably about six. Violation #1. Children under 10 are not allowed in the front passenger seat. The deployment of an airbag in the event of an accident could suffocate or cause head trauma, in some cases causing death. This child was free & unrestrained in the front seat. That's right - no seatbelt. Violation #2. I cannot tell you how much this enraged me. It's one thing to not want to buckle up yourself. You alone are responsible for your own stupidity but to have to neglect that responsibility for a child is unacceptable. I looked over at the father, made eye contact, yanked my seatbelt a couple of times in an effort to warn him to buckle up his daughter. The look I must have given him was not very friendly (course it wasn't), for he promptly restrained her. I have to say that this father belonged to a particular minority group & was probably a recent immigrant. But how on earth could he have passed his Drivers' test & not have known about the seatbelt laws that specfically apply to children?

I've seen a driver (once again in Toronto) with an unrestrained child standing in the back only to have her not go out the windshield when he slammed hard on those brakes. What is it that saved the child? His hand that quickly sprung across the child's chest to hold her back. An accident like that was imminent & he was probably going no more than 10 kms. Crash testing shows that sudden stops & crashes at slower speeds are just as damaging. We are no safer unbuckled at slower speeds than we are at high speeds.

Here in Bermuda, the speed limit is 35 kms. The only time I see people adhering to that limit is while they see an approaching copper. I will not deny that I am one of those people. I don't speed excessively but at the same time I'm not about to go at Grandpa's pace, hold up traffic & have to suffer toots from behind. It's all about going with the flow of traffic. However, even at the speed limit, I have seen children unrestrained in the car (front & back seats). Do I dare enlighten them? It makes it challenging when you can't pull up along side, given most roads here are but one lane. Besides, as an expat, I don't know how well received my messages would be.


Broom said...

it's really appalling how many people have an aversion to seat belts. I have to constantly fight with people in my car to buckle up.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more...but what you have not mentioned is the other horrific ways that occur in Bermuda on a regular basis which i feel are even more dangerous. How many times have you seen a mother or father on a scooter, driving, while at the same time holding onto a baby or trying to juggle the baby or small child between their legs or eqivalent. Most often than not you can tell that the baby or young child is wearing a helmet that is entirely inappropraite for them (read - way too large) and if every there was an accident...well God help them. Way more than the seatbelt thing, I was shocked and disturbed to see this in Bermuda. I could not beleive people would drive bikes with their little kids - so easily able to become unbalaced at any second,scooting along with no care in the world. My first week in Bermuda I witnessed the worst accident I had ever seen during the entire time I lived in Bermuda. A women on a bike DRINKING A COOLER with a small child in between her legs crashed somehow into another scooter. I beleive the two parties were talking and driving as they went along and then crash. The bottle smashed everywhere. The baby miracuosly was totally fine, but you could tell the woman was embarrassed and shaken. I kept thinking "is this normal? Do people do things like this". Thankfully everyone was fine. The two adults seemed shaken but everyone seemed to have gotten along ok.

Anyway, I just find you can only shake your head and try to do better yourself. There is always going to be some idiot who does not take proper safety of his/herself and child properly but really what can you do?