Fred H. Reiss
To the editor:
Randy and I had just finished adjusting the valves on Ron’s 502 cubic inch, 500+ horsepower jet boat. Ron stepped into the boat with the life vests and three helmets. He and Randy were sitting in the front and I had the back seat. We all put on our helmets and vests. Ron hooked up the kill switch, idled out a short distance past the No Wake Zone, and slammed the accelerator to the floor.
In what seemed to be about two seconds, we were on plane and flying across the lake at 68 mph! That’s fast when you’re as close to the water as we were and I was instantly reminded of the videos of boats that take off airborne, tumble, crash, and end up as thousands of pieces of floating debris. But this was Ron’s maiden voyage with his new boat and we took it pretty easy the rest of the day.
As we headed out to dinner that evening, I noticed I was the only one wearing a seat belt. When I asked Randy why he wasn’t wearing one, he said, “Fred, I don’t like to be told I have to wear one. I have a right to make that choice for myself.” When I asked him why he wore a life vest and helmet in the boat, he said, “That’s different. “When I asked what was different, he didn’t answer but said, “Fred, I figure when it’s your time to go, it’s your time.” I was really surprised with how quickly I came back with, “Randy, why is it you take Lisinoprol for your blood pressure if you believe “when it’s your time to go, it’s your time.” Randy said, “Good point, Fred. But you won’t change my mind.”
In the Aug. 21 edition of the Bolivar Herald-Free Press, the woman who died in a crash near Pleasant Hope was described as “Troop D’s 57th fatality for 2013” and not wearing a seat belt. Actually, this was the 75th fatality and the facts for many of these can be found on the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crash Report Website at: www.mshp.dps.mo.gov/HP68/SearchAction?searchTroop=D.
If you look at the last 10 fatalities, eight were not wearing seat belts and three of these had been ejected from the vehicle. If you want to see the hard facts to support wearing a seat belt, look at the “Fatal” and “Serious” injuries and see how many individuals weren’t buckled up.
This reminded me of the tragic loss of a young girl’s life in Hickory County when she was ejected from the vehicle after a crash at the intersection of Highway D and County Road 220. Of the four occupants, she was the only fatality and the only person not wearing a seat belt.
Google “Seat Belt Statistics” and you’ll find all the facts to support their use. Here are some of them:
n In 2008, 64 percent of the occupants ages 13 to 15 and 21 to 34 killed in a crash were not wearing a seatbelt.
n In fatal crashes in 2008, 77 percent of the occupants that were ejected from a vehicle were killed. Ejection is the most injurious event that can happen to a person in a crash.
n In 2009, seat belt use saved an estimated 12,713 lives.
n You are 10 percent less likely to wear a seat belt if you live in a rural area.
n Parents who don’t wear seat belts set a bad example and their children are less likely to wear one. Consider the grief a parent might experience when they lose a child who could have survived if they had used a seat belt.
n Driving a pickup truck or SUV doesn’t exclude you from the law or make you any safer in a crash.
Please consider your safety and set a good example for the occupants in your vehicle. Wearing a seat belt, once the habit is formed, isn’t any more difficult than putting the keys in the ignition, starting the engine, and shifting into drive. It becomes second nature, you’ll hardly notice it, and you may be very thankful someday that you did.