Every day we face moments of decision, moments where we need to make safe choices, like fastening a seat belt and paying attention to yellow lines.
Long ago, back in the 80s, I was sitting in the passenger seat of my mom’s car after school. As we drove along, she reminded me to put on my seat belt. “Yeah, just a sec,” I said with a sigh of impatience. I just wanted to find the pack of gum in my backpack.
Suddenly, I heard a loud: “Better put on that seat belt.” This startling reminder came from the loudspeaker of a police car driving right beside us. I whirled around and saw the smiling face of a police officer, and buckled my seat belt immediately. Since then, we have shared this family story many times.
The surprise of this unusual reminder gave us a laugh. But it’s actually very serious to think about the consequences of not wearing a seat belt. Transport Canada says that properly wearing your seat belt cuts the risk and severity of motor vehicle-related injuries and fatalities by over 40 percent. Fatalities can be reduced by 47 percent and serious injury by 52 percent.
I thought of my seat belt experience again recently when I saw a #BuckleUpBC message on Twitter. I contacted RoadSafetyBC, where a spokesperson told me they run this campaign twice a year to remind the public about shared road safety responsibilities.
RoadSafetyBC notes that, “Road safety is a shared responsibility, and it is required that drivers of all vehicles, both private and commercial, follow road rules and safe driving practices. Individual drivers have a duty to behave safely on the road, and employers have a duty to ensure safe working conditions.”
The power of reminders
Even though we know it’s important to wear seat belts — while driving trucks, mobile equipment, or other vehicles — we can always use reminders. It’s easy to get complacent about things that may seem obvious, but a life-changing accident only takes a moment — “just a sec,” as I said to my mom that day in the car.
“Yellow lines are everywhere” is another campaign that reminds people of basic safety precautions. It’s from the Community Against Preventable Injuries.
“These yellow lines represent moments of decision — when we choose to take a risk or change our behaviour,” reads the Preventable website. “And when that reminder isn’t there, it’s up to you.”
To this day, I’m still thankful for that unusual and direct reminder to put on my seat belt. And thanks to everyone else for reminding us to take precautions that keep us safe.