[seat belts and safety]

[seat belts and safety]

There is a Russian proverb: “God protects those who take care of themselves.”

I agree with that proverb. Yes, there are times when God saves us from the consequences of obvious recklessness, but He was the one who made sure almost every living creature has an instinct to protect itself.

Seat belts in this country are mostly neglected. There are a few people who were adamant about the necessity of using those, but in most cars there are simply no seat belts in the back and often the drivers don’t care about buckling up either.

The taxi drivers even have an annoying feature – they feel personally offended if you do put the seat belt on.

“Don’t you trust my ability to drive you safely?”

“I do – otherwise I wouldn’t get in the car. I do not trust the other drivers.”

And it’s true – Ukrainian drivers are terrible! (They even drive *gasp* on sidewalks… True story – ask anyone who ever visited Kyiv.)

Besides simple safety measures, for me buckling up is a habit. When I was a kid, we had a Church van – and if I wanted to sit in front, I had to put the seat belt on. It simply wasn’t an option. Therefore, I don’t even think when I sit down – I buckle up automatically.

A friend of mine and I recently had a small discussion.

He was driving us (3 of my friends and his baby son) to a camp and one of my friends sat in front.

“T, put the seat belt on, please.”

“V doesn’t have it on…” She replied, looking at the driver.

“Please?” I asked.


“Not wearing my seat belt once saved my life. So I don’t buckle up anymore,” said V, the driver.

“If I wore the seat belt when I was in the accident, my friend and I wouldn’t be as hurt as we were,” I retorted. (That was one of those times when there simply were no seat belts in the back of the car. My friend and I banged our heads due to the impact of another car crashing into ours…)

We agreed to disagree but I kept thinking about this as we drove past the glorious Ukrainian fields.

Yes, sometimes not following the set rules can save a person. However, when you create a ratio of how many people got seriously injured (or even killed) because they did not follow the rules and those times when a miracle saved a person’s life…

— Seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about 50%.*
— Air bags provide added protection but are not a substitute for seat belts. Air bags plus seat belts provide the greatest protection for adults.**
— Among passenger vehicle occupants over age 4, seat belts saved an estimated 13,250 lives in 2008. If all passenger vehicle occupants over age 4 had worn seat belts, 17,402 could have been saved.***
— Ejection from the vehicle is one of the most injurious events that can happen to a person in a crash. In fatal crashes in 2008, 77% of passenger vehicle occupants who were totally ejected from the vehicle were killed.***

Rules are there for a reason. 

Our youth pastor said a phrase about 10 years ago that still is fresh in my mind: “Safety manual is a book written with someone else’s blood.”

As much as I don’t like blindly following all rules, there are rules that keep us from getting hurt.

Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get… But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.

Matthew 7:12, 26-27, MSG

Did following rules ever get you in trouble?

* – National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Final regulatory impact analysis amendment to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208. Passenger car front seat occupant protection. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; 1984. Publication no. DOT-HS-806-572. Available here.
** – National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Third report to Congress: effectiveness of occupant protection systems and their use. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; 1996. Available here.
*** – More Seat Belt Statistics can be found here.

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