• 63°

COLUMN — There is no debate, seat belts save lives

I’m old, but sometimes the news still amazes me, especially these days.

The latest news story to amaze me was a sad statistic from a story by reporter Alexa Massey about seat belt usage as it relates to fatalities in the five counties we cover. We have had 12 fatalities so far this year, and 11 of the people who died were not wearing a seat belt.

Saturday, there was a crash in Buckingham County that sent four of the five people involved to the hospital with serious injuries. None of the five people in the two cars were wearing seat belts.

I don’t understand this at all. I thought everyone wore their seat belts. My car bugs me to death with beeps, bings and all kinds of annoying sounds if I don’t put my seat belt on by the time I get to the end of my street. I wear my seat belt not because I am scared of death but because my car won’t stop making increasingly annoying sounds until I do. But obviously, it is a good idea if you want to stay alive.

What was more crazy about the Buckingham story is the debate on Facebook that followed, with some people declaring their independence from wearing seat belts. One person said he didn’t want to strap himself into a time bomb. I’m not sure what type of car he drives. Another person said her decision to not wear a seat belt didn’t affect anyone else.

Others followed up with stories of how seat belts had saved lives of themselves or family members. Some told how loved ones had been killed by not wearing a seat belt. The fact that wearing seat belts saves lives is a simple, time-tested truth. But yet, we want to have a debate when 90% of the people dead in car accidents this year were not wearing seat belts.

It frustrates me that six months after I was born, we put a man on the moon, and that may be the best thing we do as a society in my lifetime.

If we as a society cannot take advantage of the intellect, technology and scientific data to save our own lives and the lives of others, I worry about where we are going as a country.

We see this in the wearing of seat belts and in the wearing of masks. We will not forego our personal comfort for the sake of ourselves or others. We will not make even the smallest of sacrifices to protect our loved ones from having to bury us prematurely.

When did we become such a selfish, self-absorbed, uncaring people?

Click the seat belt, wear the mask, live long and prosper.

ROGER WATSON is editor of The Farmville Herald. His email address is Roger.Watson@FarmvilleHerald.com.