You wouldn’t fly without ‘strapping in,’ would you?

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Dave Smith
  • 824th Security Forces Squadron
We all have our pet peeves, and mine admittedly is seat belt use and safety in general. As a trainer, supervisor, flight superintendent, and presently first sergeant, one of my many concerns is the safety and well being of my Airmen, peers and supervisors. 

Some of my experience comes from being an instructor for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, and I also did a two-and-a-half year stint as a quality assurance evaluator at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. 

QA inspectors and evaluators, and police officers for that matter, don't "give out" write-ups or tickets ... people earn them, usually by doing something "not so bright" like not wearing seatbelts. 

What truly never ceases to amaze me is the high number of individuals - on and off base - not wearing their seatbelts. I've even seen the driver of a car putting on their seatbelt as they approached the gate. That tells me the driver knew seatbelt wear is required on base; not to mention it's the law in most states, Georgia included. 

At a previous base, I've seen "operators" driving cars without a seatbelt. I mention this because as a former crew chief, these were the same folks I had "strapped in" to 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? In all fairness, I assure you, operators are not the only violators. 

I'm pretty confident that somewhere along the line everyone who operates or rides in a vehicle has been briefed - at length - on the importance and requirement of seatbelt use. 

What strikes me funny is the way my kids "kick up a fuss" if I, in my haste to get moving, start to move the car when one of them isn't buckled up. I often think of how they learned the importance of seatbelts and the consequences of not using them. 

When my youngest son Josh was in kindergarten, he refused to ride in a car with another parent on a field trip because they weren't using their seatbelt. Even he "got it" at a very young age. 

There was a time prior to coming into the service, when I didn't always use my seatbelt. I guess what turned me around was being briefed that if I should get into an accident and not be buckled up, it was very likely that if I survived the accident I would get to "foot the bill" for medical expenses. Or worse, should I not survive; more than likely my family would incur those "expenses." This is not something I would wish on my family. 

Yeah, call me selfish. And if you've stayed with me so far, guess what? You've been briefed too - buckle up!