Editorial: Seatbelt shunning madness

By ANDREW AUSTIN - EDITOR

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A Police blitz on drivers using cellphones in Hawke's Bay last week revealed a rather disturbing trend - people not wearing their seatbelts.

Clint Adamson, who is an Eastern District road policing sergeant, said the number of people picked up in the operation for not wearing their seatbelts was "alarming".

He said that at one checkpoint site the ratio was about five to 10 seatbelt breaches for every cellphone breach.

This is quite incredible and something I cannot really understand. The law banning drivers talking on the phone is relatively new - it came into effect in 2009 - so in a way you can understand that sometimes old habits die hard. Not wearing a seatbelt is an entirely different matter. Many of us began driving when the seatbelt law was already in place and have become used to it. That is why it is astounding that some people don't automatically do it. Obviously and thankfully those people did not have young kids in the car with them because even children know about road safety. If I am a little slow in putting on my seatbelt, my young daughters very quickly and very loudly remind me to do so. Also the evidence is quite clear - if you don't wear a seatbelt, you are likely to be thrown from the vehicle in a crash.

Hawke's Bay Today has covered quite a few fatal motor vehicle accidents over the years and the common thread is that often people died from being thrown from the car when they did not have their seatbelt on.

I think we all need to realise that accidents can happen very easily and it is up to us to ensure that we are complying with all the rules of the road to ensure our and others' safety.

Many people, who got used to being able to talk on the phone before the law change, find it tempting to make a quick call or look at a text message while driving.

It is not really worth it, because a moment's lack of focus on the road could result in an accident. The way to look at it is to think that if you don't put your seatbelt on, it could be your last car trip and if you don't stop to take that call, it could be the last call you ever take.

It only takes a moment to buckle up or to pull over to take that call, so rather do that than risk death or severe injuries.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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