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Columbus, Ohio

Safety = Love, or Why I Always Wear a Seat Belt


Why injury? It's this simple: more children die from injuries every year than from the next three leading causes of death combined. Nobody knows this because no one is talking about it. In the U.S., one child dies every hour from an injury that could have been prevented. Around the world, a child dies every 30 seconds as the result of an injury. You don’t need to have a child to know that we can do better.


Safety = Love, or Why I Always Wear a Seat Belt

End Injury

I grew up in a large family. There were four of us kids for most of my childhood, and much to our surprise, a fifth was added when I was in high school. To manage a house where the kids outnumbered the adults by more than two to one, parental authority was established early and rules were always enforced. One of these rules was that everyone wore seat beltsno exceptions.

My mother took great pains to drill using seat belts into our routine. She often told us that the car wouldn’t start until we all had our seat belts on, which, translated through my young brain, meant that cars couldn’t physically turn on until they somehow knew every person was buckled up. (Imagine my confusion when my friend’s family, who never used seat belts, picked me up in a car that was clearly moving despite the lack of fastened belts.) Traveling to family vacations, we’d lay down the bench in the back of our van to sleep but still had to wear seat belts; our well-vocalized discomfort was never enough to outweigh the injury risk if we were in a crash.

As much as I resented that rule as a kid, it’s so engrained in my habits that I enforce it in my own car. No one rides in my car without a seat belt on, even friends who don’t usually buckle up. It’s such a part of me that I get nervous when my husband is behind the wheel and doesn’t put on his seat belt before we leave the driveway. It may annoy him to have me on his case, but I’m grateful to my parents for teaching me to stay firm on seat belts. The message that lay within the rule was one of safety, yes, but also one of love.

And now, I understand why. Our car held the most precious cargo my parents could transport: their children. There was no way my parents were going to tempt fate by ignoring what they knew about seat belts and the lives they save. When I get pushback from friends who don’t want to wear a belt, I tell them what my parents told us: I love them too much to see them put into danger, and anyway, the car can’t physically start until everyone’s buckled up.


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