That’s what my husband usually hears from me as soon as we get into the car. He’d usually roll his eyes at me, but knew better than to argue. I’m a really, really insufferable nag when it comes to car safety. The car seat belt is my best friend. But then again, it would be yours too had it once saved you from going through the wind shield.
Wearing seat belts didn’t used to be an implemented law here, if you guys can recall. I remember parts of my childhood when cars didn’t come outfitted with the compulsory seat belt. It was actually a “special feature” that had additional cost. Some time later (I can’t remember if it was during my elementary or high school years), the government started having this campaign on using seat belts because of the rise in vehicular accidents.
I had to admit I was one of those who grudgingly followed that law. And if I could get away with it, I wouldn’t have fastened my seat belt. After being so used to sitting without one, the seat belt felt so constricting. I couldn’t move around as I used to. My dad, being the safety freak he is, gave me long, boring sermons on road safety just to get me wear one. I didn’t like spending the trip going to school listening to my dad’s monologue, so I just obliged. But that changed… Obviously :P
I remember Dad and I coming home from my basketball game. The tournament was held somewhere in Manila. I can’t remember where exactly, but anyway… Dad was driving, and I was so tired I just had to sleep. My dad didn’t want me closing my eyes till I fastened my seat belt, and so I did. Lucky I did. Because somewhere along Sta. Mesa, a crazy driver came out of nowhere and went careening right in front of us even when the stoplight signaled our turn to move forward.
Either he was color blind or just wanted some excitement in his life by running a stop light right in front of a cop… Who cares, he almost cost me my life. I was jolted wide awake, the seat belt preventing me from going straight into the wind shield. Dad was so worried, he checked my chest and found a few bruises. But other than that, I was alive. At least my head didn’t go through the glass, or worse, get smashed to a pulp.
The cop immediately checked on us, the crazy driver long gone, having sped away from the accident he almost caused without even bothering to stop and check if he hurt anybody. The cop commended my dad for his fast reflexes and safety precautions, and wanted to accompany us to the hospital so I can have my chest checked in case of broken bones or something serious. Maybe it was because I looked so shaken, young and fragile, that he wanted to be sure I’d be ok. Or maybe he felt guilty he couldn’t give chase to that despicable excuse for a driver (he didn’t have a police mobile or motorcycle with him). But Dad just asked him for directions to the nearest hospital, as we didn’t want him abandoning his post for us.
The doctor checked on me, and even had an X-ray — both indicating I was fine. But I was still shaken. I will never forget that day. Ever.
It’s hard to imagine what could have happened to me that day had I not been wearing my seat beat. The worse is dying in a really morbid way — having my head smashed to a pulp, or going through the wind shield and straight to the other side of the intersection. If not, I could have been severely injured, broken bones and internal injuries that could have ended my basketball playing days way too early. I tried not to think about those things, but I just couldn’t help it. I was lucky my dad was an ass about car safety.
Today, we are required to wear seat belts. But that still doesn’t stop stubborn drivers and passengers from finding ways to get away with it. Others would even go through a stop light or pass through a one-way street when there’s no cop in sight. Some do that because they think running late for an appointment is an excuse for breaking traffics rules, or that they could be above the law for knowing or being related to some VIP. But what they’re forgetting is that these laws are there for a reason. They’re there for our safety. By being stubborn and trying to get away with breaking these rules, they not only endanger themselves, but others as well.
It’s not like Filipinos are incapable of discipline. We are. The strict traffic rules in Subic showed that. We can follow rules if we wanted to. Let’s just hope near-accidents don’t have to be the reason for us to follow rules that should have been followed in the first place.
Stay safe, everyone!