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The safe and responsible Mr. Banks



Well that’s it. I’ve given up. I hate to say it but I think I’m getting old. I now wear my seatbelt. I wear it all the time, yes, even when I’m just going to the store. Gone are my youthful feelings of rebellion, of sticking it to the man. I’ve lost that "so what" spirit, that instinctive "whatever" response, that mocking smirk I used to give my mother when she’d tell me, again, to buckle up. And the worst part is, I can’t exactly pin down when it happened, which means responsibility has probably been growing in me unnoticed, like a tumour.

Yes, part of my newly discovered seatbelt wearing comes from being broke enough to not want to pay the fine. Yes, I’ve been dinged by more than one of those 4:30 p.m. "surprise" belt checks set up on Village Gate Boulevard. But that isn’t the only reason. I’ve known about those things for years and in my younger days I’d drive all the way to town and then buckle up at the last minute to avoid being nabbed.

No, I can’t place the blame solely on the cops. Generally I’d hate to admit those blasted seatbelt checks are anything more than a cash-grab. But now I’m thinking that, by golly, they actually promote safety. In a twisted, safety-through-financial-stinginess sort of way. But it also seems that now, at 30 years old, I’ve bought into the whole "Seat belts save lives" line of thinking.

Of course, it’s true, they do. Any idiot can understand that. But what worries me is that I’m not fighting it. I’m afraid it may be a slippery slope, this responsibility stuff. Next thing you know I’ll be wearing a helmet on the mountain, or when I bike along the Valley Trail. And after that, who knows? Will I be disinfecting every doorknob before I open it? Or perhaps just staying home, forever afraid that if I leave the house an anvil will fall on my head. It happens, I’ve seen it on TV.

Yes, getting old sucks. My life is no more valuable than it was 10 years ago, you could even say it’s less – I’ve 10 fewer years of potential ahead of me. And yet here I am following the rules, wearing my seatbelt even when I’m just going to the corner store. Maybe brainwashing works, maybe my teenage angst has worked itself out, or maybe I’m finally smart enough to pay attention to the statistics.

CARS BC, theYouth CounterAttack Roadsense Society of B.C., is a non-profit organization focused on educating kids and saving lives. According to their webpage ( ) more youth die in car crashes than anything else, and if you wear a seatbelt you’re half as likely to die in a car wreck.

They also claim that if just 1 per cent more B.C. drivers wore their seatbelts ICBC’s annual claim costs would decrease by more than $10 million. Whether that money would transfer to lower insurance rates for us or longer holidays for ICBC top execs is pure speculation, but ICBC research does indicate that 75 per cent of people ejected from their vehicles (in a crash) die. Seatbelts keep you in "the engineered safe zone," fancy words for the "not smeared across the pavement with an SUV crushing your torso zone." So wear those belts.

But who cares what I say? Listen to Inspector McPhail, the man in charge of Sea to Sky Regional Police Services. He says, "The Enhanced Safety Program for the Sea to Sky region is in effect for the summer. We’ve got extra officers out there checking for seatbelts and keeping an eye open for erratic and aggressive driving." So buckle up and drive safe or those guys will get ya. And a seatbelt ticket costs 86 bucks.

As for me, better to just watch out. If you see me driving past Nesters in a Volvo station wagon with my headlights on in the day, doing 59 km/h taking my recycling in, wearing my seatbelt, a SARS mask, a helmet and a condom, with a fresh life insurance policy in the front pocket of my kevlar vest and a first aid kit on the seat beside me, just make sure to stay at least six car lengths behind, because while I may appear safe and responsible. I could snap at any moment.