Seatbelt use--or a lack there of?

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Dave Smith
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
Military service focuses on rules and regulations we all pledge to follow. However, some Airmen still refuse to adhere to one of the simplest guidelines: wearing a seatbelt while driving or riding in a vehicle.

Now I won't delve into the grisly details of what can happen to you or your passengers when not "buckling up," as we have all heard stories and seen pictures of people who don't "click it."

Yet as a trainer, supervisor and superintendent one of my many concerns is the well-being of my folks, peers and yes... even my supervisors. Due to this, one of my largest pet peeves is seatbelt use.

Many of my experiences are drawn from my time spent as an instructor for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation as well as more than two years as a Quality Assurance Evaluator at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.

During my time as a QA, I was "affectionately" known for my strict adherence to seatbelt rules.

I issued the most QA write-ups for failure to use seatbelts of any other member of the Tyndall QA. Also notice how I "issued" those write-ups. I didn't "give" write-ups to people. I point that out to demonstrate that QA inspectors/evaluators, and police officers for that matter, don't "give out" write-ups/tickets...people earn them.

All Airmen have to do to avoid these write-ups is read the instruction and base supplement that directs seatbelt use, and follow it.

The high number of individuals I have observed, on and off base, not wearing their seatbelts never ceases to amaze me. I have even observed Airmen putting their seatbelts on while pulling up to the gates. That only tells me one thing: they're aware that seatbelts are required on base, but choose not to follow the same laws most states have, including Georgia.

At a previous base, I have even witnessed "operators" driving their car without their seatbelt.

I mention this because, as a former crew chief, these are some of the same Airmen I had "strapped-in" the cockpit of the fighter they were flying earlier the same day.

The question that always came to my mind was, "You wouldn't fly without 'strapping in' would you? So, why on earth would you drive that way? Are you any less vulnerable in your car?"

Now I only use pilots as an example. In all fairness everyone at one point or another is guilty of driving without "strapping in."

I'm confident that everyone on base who operates or rides in a vehicle has been briefed on the importance and requirement of seatbelt use. What really tends to strike me as funny, is that my own children will "kick up a fuss" if I should, in my haste to get moving, start to drive without one of them being buckled in.

I use the word funny, because I often think of how my kids came to learn the importance of seatbelt use and the possible consequences of not using them.

My youngest son, Josh, has even refused to ride in a car with another parent on a field trip because they weren't using their seatbelt. He "got it" at a very young age.

I admit, there was a time before my service that even I didn't always wear my seatbelt. But the continuous briefings we receive as Airmen should instill a sense of safety awareness we must all maintain.

Should you get into an accident without using your seatbelt and survive, you "foot the bill." Or worse, should you not survive; your family would incur the expenses.

Would you put yourself or your family through that for something as simple as buckling your seatbelt?