Buckle Up, Idiot

Warning: Rant ahead. Proceed with caution.

This public service announcement is brought to you by loved ones everywhere.

More than a million people globally are estimated to have survived a car accident thanks to a 50-year-old invention designed by Volvo – the three-point safety belt.

This statement kept playing over and over in my head when I went to pick up my boys from school yesterday.

Over one million people have been snatched back from the jaws of death simply because they buckled up.

And Volvo, who designed this life-saving apparatus, was so convinced that it WOULD save lives, that they sacrificed their personal financial gain to make this technology available to ALL car manufacturers.

They put public safety in front of personal gain.

I think they deserve a big THANK YOU and a huge round of applause for that one. (Applause)

Buckle_Up And yet, so few people actually WEAR them.

I was sitting at an intersection yesterday, about 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon, watching a long line of cars turning in front of me and I made a point of looking at each driver as they drove past. Most of the drivers were students leaving high school, some of the drivers were parents who had just picked their students up from high school.

I’d guess the student to adult ratio was about 80% student, 20% parent.

And I was shocked, flabbergasted, to note that most of the drivers were not wearing their seat belts. In fact, most of the drivers were on their cell phones AND not wearing their seat belts.

And we wonder why we’re a nation of clueless morons.

After observing so many people blatantly disregarding safety issues, I became more sensitive to those around me so that I too became one of those distracted drivers, but not because I was on my cell phone, adjusting my radio or sipping a latte, but because I was busy eyeballing each and every driver that I passed to see if they were wearing their seat belts.

I won’t even tell you what I saw, you can guess.

I find it totally, and completely, UNBELIEVABLE that after ALL the public awareness, after all the PREACHING, NAGGING and REMINDERS, after passing LAWS (because yes, we have a seat belt law in Missouri), that people STILL don’t wear their seat belts.

And then some people still have the audacity to pawn their ignorance off on, “We need more education! We need more public awareness!”

Bullsh*t – we need more responsible people in this world. THAT’S what we need.

seatbelt_jpgDon’t give me lame excuses. Just don’t. There are NO EXCUSES. It’s a fundamental, and elementary action: get in the car, buckle up, turn on the ignition, check mirrors … etc.

Schools DRUM the importance of wearing our seat belts by showing gruesome examples of what can happen to you if you don’t wear them.

Police officers are instructed to actively look for people who aren’t wearing their seat belts and you can bet you’ll get a ticket if you’re in an accident and you weren’t wearing your seat belt.

Warnings to BUCKLE UP are all over the media, they are staring at us in bold-face type and capital letters on billboards.

And yet, there are still so many people who don’t buckle up.

I don’t get it. I honestly don’t understand people’s unwillingness to protect themselves.

Parents, you say you love your children. Okay, prove it. Start by buckling up. And don’t forget to buckle your children up. (You still wouldn’t believe the number of children I see NOT buckled up. And I’ve been noticing that for years because it INFURIATES me).

WHY would anyone willingly play Russian roulette with their lives? Why?! We, as parents, have a moral obligation to take care of ourselves for our children. Our children need us, they count on us to be there, to guide them, to protect them, to help them reach adulthood. How irresponsible of us to NOT do everything we can to make sure we’re around for them.

I’m sorry to be ranting like this, but I’m pissed off. I’ve had it. My boys will soon be out in the middle of this concrete jungle and it makes me SO ANGRY when I see drivers being careless.

And while we’re on the driving rant, let’s take this a step further, shall we?

We’re in a CAR, we’re not in a protective BUBBLE. Cars are dangerous weapons, if not handled correctly. We owe it to ourselves, and to our children, to freaking pay attention to the road when we’re driving.

hangup This means, get off your damn cell phone. Life-will-not-end if you don’t answer right away. It’s called voice mail, use it. If it’s an honest to God emergency, pull over. It’s called a shoulder, use it.

Stop fiddling with the radio.

Wait to eat that Big Mac.

You won’t die of thirst before you hit the next stop light.

Wake up an extra ten minutes early and put your makeup on at home.

Don’t threaten to pull over and discipline your children if they’re acting up and distracting you, PULL OVER and deal with them, don’t deal with them while you’re driving.

Your hair looks fine, stop fixing it.

And if you’re texting while driving? Well, I’m sorry, but you’re an idiot. There’s really nothing more I can say that will sugar coat that one.

Oh my gosh, I’m so sick of people not taking responsibility for their driving actions. (Or any actions, quite frankly).

There are no excuses for endangering your life. There are no excuses for endangering the lives of other drivers.

Because one of those “other” drivers. Might possibly be my son.

For the love of God, buckle up, hang up, put down that french fry and pay attention.

For all of us.

(Update:) I just heard that Missouri passed a state law that prohibits anyone under the age of 21 to text while driving. ARE YOU PEOPLE STUPID?! What does age have to do with anything? No one should be texting and driving. Just because the idiot is older doesn’t make it better!!

Criminy! I can’t believe this is real life. Seriously

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More from Write From Karen


Empty Promises, Beautiful Prose

This was published on my self-hosted blog, January 2006.

I love my country. I am thankful there are men and women out there who devote their lives to maintain our freedom. I appreciate the opportunities our country offers us. But I have to say, politicians are a bunch of over-grown three-year-olds who love throwing temper tantrums because they know it’ll get them on the five o’clock news.

In a nutshell, it’s pathetic.

I’ll just say right now, I’m a Republican. And yet, I feel strange saying that out loud. True, I agree with about 60% of what Republicans stand for: less government power, less taxes, more citizen responsibility, blahblahblah, but I don’t agree with everything.

I’ll even admit to agreeing with a FEW of the Democratic issues though again, I must stress the word “few.”

Overall, I would say I’m an independent. I just want what’s fair for everyone. I realize this is an idealistic view but there you have it.

What prompted this sudden show of patriotism? The President’s State of the Union Address last night.

Normally, I wouldn’t watch the actual address, I would watch snippets of it played back on various news stations, but Dude’s social studies teacher gave the kids an optional extra credit assignment if they would watch it, list three points of interest and then write a paragraph about those issues.

So, we ended up watching the president, all four of us. (Jazz spent the time coloring a science project but occasionally he would pause and I could tell he was listening).

This family gathering warmed my heart. Our kids are taking an interest in our country! They are weighing the issues and forming their own opinions! That’s all I’ve wanted for our kids, to grow up independent and capable of thinking for themselves and not allowing them to be swept up into the majority because let’s face it, that’s not always the best course of action.

Kevin stopped the program several times so we could explain what some of the issues were to the kids. They really didn’t understand social security because c’mon, they’re kids and the thought of growing old and actually needing government help is eons away from their comprehension.

They didn’t understand why we were making such a big deal about oil and we had to explain to them that it wasn’t really about the efficiency of oil, though it’s past time we develop an alternative form of energy, but that we have grown dependent on countries who like to toy with our lives for kicks in their spare time.

America bows to no one, unless they have oil. *grimace*

I soon glazed over from all of the promises because let’s be honest, it all sounds good but we all know that very little, if any, of the “dreams” for a better running society will ever happen and certainly not overnight.

The citizen part of me tuned out and the writer in me tuned in. I started paying attention to semantics and the near poetic sing-song verbiage. The speech writers really did an excellent job. Here are some of my favorite excerpts from the president’s speech:

America is a great force for freedom and prosperity. Yet our greatness is not measured in power or luxuries, but by who we are and how we treat one another. So we strive to be a compassionate, decent, hopeful society.

In recent years, America has become a more hopeful nation. Violent crime rates have fallen to their lowest levels since the 1970s. Welfare cases have dropped by more than half over the past decade. Drug use among youth is down 19 percent since 2001. There are fewer abortions in America than at any point in the last three decades, and the number of children born to teenage mothers has been falling for a dozen years in a row.

These gains are evidence of a quiet transformation — a revolution of conscience, in which a rising generation is finding that a life of personal responsibility is a life of fulfillment. Government has played a role. Wise policies, such as welfare reform and drug education and support for abstinence and adoption have made a difference in the character of our country. And everyone here tonight, Democrat and Republican, has a right to be proud of this record.

Yet many Americans, especially parents, still have deep concerns about the direction of our culture, and the health of our most basic institutions. They’re concerned about unethical conduct by public officials, and discouraged by activist courts that try to redefine marriage. They worry about children in our society who need direction and love, and about fellow citizens still displaced by natural disaster, and about suffering caused by treatable diseases.

As we look at these challenges, we must never give in to the belief that America is in decline, or that our culture is doomed to unravel. The American people know better than that. We have proven the pessimists wrong before — and we will do it again.

Fellow citizens, we’ve been called to leadership in a period of consequence. We’ve entered a great ideological conflict we did nothing to invite. We see great changes in science and commerce that will influence all our lives. Sometimes it can seem that history is turning in a wide arc, toward an unknown shore.

Yet the destination of history is determined by human action, and every great movement of history comes to a point of choosing. Lincoln could have accepted peace at the cost of disunity and continued slavery. Martin Luther King could have stopped at Birmingham or at Selma and achieved only half a victory over segregation. The United States could have accepted the permanent division of Europe and been complicit in the oppression of others. Today, having come far in our own historical journey, we must decide will we turn back or finish well?

Before history is written down in books, it is written in courage. Like Americans before us, we will show that courage and we will finish well. We will lead freedom’s advance. We will compete and excel in the global economy. We will renew the defining moral commitments of this land. And so we move forward—optimistic about our country, faithful to its cause and confident of victories to come.

May God bless America.

Just reading over this passage makes me feel strong and proud to be an American. We have flaws, we have differences, but it all boils down to our attempts to work together and to provide a strong, successful nation to pass on to our children.

I’m a realist. I WANT to believe politicians and the promises they make us but really, doesn’t it all boil down to appreciating beautiful, smart prose?