Despite the vital role automobile seat belts have played in saving thousands and thousands of lives over the last several decades, there is still a group of drivers and passengers who are determined not to wear them, for any number of reasons: because they find them too uncomfortable or confining, because they don’t believe in their efficacy, because they’ve heard that wearing seat belts might actually cost them their lives in certain types of accidents, or because they resent as an unwarranted intrusion of government into private life the plethora of laws now requiring motorists to buckle up.
In this vein, we note with a sense of both sadness and irony a couple of articles recently called to our attention. The first is a
As laws become increasingly strict for seat belts, fewer people will respond positively by buckling up in response to the laws. There seems to be a die-hard group of non-wearers out there who simply do not wish to buckle up no matter what the government does. I belong to this group.
Evidently his words were far more prescient than any of us might have wanted, as an article in the
Derek Kieper was a smart, funny, intense young man who relished a good debate and would do anything for his friends.
Kieper, a 21-year-old senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, died early Tuesday morning when the Ford Explorer he was a passenger in traveled off an icy section of
Interstate 80and rolled several times in a ditch. Kieper, who was riding in the back seat of the Explorer, was ejected from the vehicle.
Two others in the vehicle, including the driver, Luke Havermann of Ogallala, and the front-seat passenger, Nick Uphoff of Randolph Air Force Base in Texas, sustained non-life threatening injuries. Havermann and Uphoff, both 21, were being treated at BryanLGH Medical Center West.
Derek, who was thrown from the vehicle, was not wearing a seat belt,
[Capt. JoeLefler of the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office] said. He said Havermann and Uphoff were wearing seat belts at the time.
In a similar vein, in July 2011 a helmetless motorcyclist participating in a ride to protest mandatory helmet laws was killed when he was thrown over the handlebars of his motorcycle in Onondaga,
Philip A. Contos, 55, of Parish, New York, was on a ride organized by the Onondaga chapter of American Bikers Aimed Towards Education (ABATE).
Contos hit his brakes, began fishtailing and lost control of his 1983 Harley Davidson. He shot over the handlebars, hit his head on the pavement and was taken to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse,
New York,where he was pronounced dead.
State police say evidence at the scene plus information from the attending medical expert indicated Contos would have survived had he been wearing a helmet as required by state law.
Kieper, Derek. “Individual Rights Buckle Under Seat Belt Laws.”
The Daily Nebraskan. 17 September 2004.
Mabin, Butch. “I-80 Crash Claims UNL Student’s Life.”
Lincoln Journal Star. 4 January 2005.
Raja, Nina. “Bareheaded Motorcyclist Dies in Helmet Protest.”
CNN.com. 4 July 2011.
WOWT-TV [Omaha]. “Icy Interstate Linked to Fatal Crash.”
4 January 2005.