It’s not just a cliché.
It’s not just a saying.
It’s not just a combination of words people say to pass time.
It’s the fundamental difference between life and death in the event of a car accident.
I have been meaning to write this blog post months now but I kept putting it off over and over again. This time, I sat myself down and forced myself to write it in the hope that at least one person will read it, learn from it and BENEFIT from it. If this one person benefits, I will probably never know, but I will just feel better….
I write this taking into consideration the current road carnage in Trinidad. Seven (7) deaths in less than 24 hours. One person I actually know. When you hear about bodies flying out of cars, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the person(s) was not wearing seatbelt.
I am going to try and explain this as simplest as possible.
What really happens in a car accident? For argument’s sake, let’s take the simple scenario of a head on collision between car A and car B. To make it even simpler, let’s assume car B is parked.
Car A hits car B at 80 km/h (the stipulated maximum driving speed on the highway in Trinidad).
What happens at the point of impact?
I refer to Newton’s 1st Law which states:
Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.
One millisecond before the point of impact, Car A is traveling at 80 km/h. At the point of impact, the motion of car A decelerates from 80 km/h to 0 km/h in a split second.
Now this is the point in the argument where most people do not consider.
Although Car A decelerates to 0 km/h, the contents of Car A (i.e. the people, loose items etc) continues “in a state of motion” and will remain in that state of motion unless something stops it. In layman’s terms, the occupants of Car A continue moving at 80 km/h and will eventually hit the windscreen. See Picture 1 below.
Just to compare, this is EXACTLY the same thing as if the occupants were standing still in the middle of the road and a car hit them at 80 km/h.
The pain felt is the same.
The damage done is more or less the same.
Newton’s 1st law applies in the same way.
How does this all relate to a seatbelt?
When in Newton’s 1st law, where it talks about “unless an external force is applied to it”, this is the device that provides that external force that stops the occupants from flying forward.
Its simple physics, but we aren’t all physicist.
At the time of writing this post (that is to say in the year 2007!!!), the Trinidad Government still does not see it necessary to make it mandatory for EVERY occupant in a moving vehicle to wear a seatbelt (especially in the backseat). May I just stress, that we are in the year 2007!!
Even if the government doesn’t implement this law, why is it a laughing matter when Trinis (living in Trinidad) finds it amusing when I strap on my seatbelt in the back seat?
I have often wondered about this. This is one thing that I find very hard to swallow. I bet you today, that if you enter a taxi or any car for that matter and reach for the seat belt in the backseat, some other poor soul in the car will not hesitate to blink twice. My normal reaction is “brudda man, you laugh, but when the time comes, my body parts will remain as one whole”.
I have asked a sample size of 5 people I know “why don’t you wear seatbelts in the backseat?”
Here are their responses:
Person 1: Seat belts are uncomfortable; I like to sprawl out in the backseat.
Person 2: I don’t know why but I don’t feel the need to like I do with the front…I guess its stupid coming to think of it.
Person 3: It’s not a requirement by law (and I also stuck it under the backseat).
Person 4: I don’t feel like I need it in the backseat.
Person 5: It looks retarded in the back.
Notice, not one person said that they actually wear seat belts in the back. Now correct me if I am wrong, but I am pretty much sure that I do not have to increase my sample population to get different answers. (just to give you an idea, the people that I asked are well educated, all are above 24 years of age and 80% of them have a Bachelor or Science, one in engineering might I add!).
As I always say, I feel much safer in the air than on Trinidad’s roads.
Picture 2 - I may be sleeping, but it won’t be permanent.
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