We lost a dear friend because he didn't have his seatbelt on.There's sometimes a strange delusion that you're safe because you're near home. I've been in three car accidents in which the car I was riding in was completely destroyed. Each accident was within five miles of home, just a trip to the movies or shopping. Each time, I had my seatbelt on, because I always put my seatbelt on. I'm still here.
It was just before New Years, 1990. He was a veterinarian, casual and stubborn and compassionate, and not wearing his seatbelt when his girlfriend wasn't with him to nag him about it was kind of a guy thing with him. He was at his country house in Pennsylvania with his beloved girlfriend, whom he was soon to marry. He went out at night to do a few errands, and coming around a curve on the dark country road, saw a deer right in front of him. He swerved reflexively, right into a telephone pole. The cops said if he'd had his seatbelt on he would have had his choice to walk or drive away from the accident. Instead, he went through the windshield, was in a coma for ten days and died at the age of 44.
Ever since then, I fasten my seatbelt religiously and insist that my passengers do likewise. (It's guys who really need to hear this.)
UPDATE: A reader sends this link to Best of the Web from a few days ago -- scroll down to "The Jerk that Flirts With Death" -- which is about as simultaneously funny and sad as something can be. Actually, I can understand hating the mandatory seatbelt laws. You may well object to the government forcing you to do what is best for you. But you still ought to wear that seatbelt!