In just the past two weeks, our community has lost two individuals in vehicle crashes. In both instances, those who died were not wearing seatbelts.
I can only shake my head in disbelief when I read the reports following both collisions. Each time I see something like this, it reminds me of an incident back in 2009 involving my own family.
What I remember the most from the August afternoon was the pain, which was still there several days afterward. Every time I moved my neck, I received a painful reminder not to move my head to the left or up.
Anytime I sat back in my chair at the office or got out of bed in the morning, I needed to brace my neck with my hands before I tried to move or risk another reminder of what happened.
It wasn't supposed to happen, I tried to convince myself. After all, the family and I only planned to make a quick trip to Boise, finish some last-minute shopping and be home in time for dinner.
We never made it.
It took just a moment of distraction for the day to go very wrong. The driver behind us looked away from the road for just a second to reach for a soda. His car rapidly caught up with mine while I braked for the car in front of me.
The minivan shook uncontrollably as vehicles collided. My wife and daughter screamed as I tried to comprehend what just happened.
The force of the collision pushed my van off the road like a billiard ball on a pool table, refusing to stop no matter how hard I hit the brakes. We somehow dodged a telephone pole and stopped after crushing a decorative wooden barrier about 15 feet off the street.
Okay... I was able to move... a good sign. I put the van in park and shut off the ignition to avoid a fire in case we cracked a fuel line.
I looked over, and my wife was moving around -- a very good sign. Throwing open my door, I raced around the van and opened the cargo door. My daughter was okay, visibly shaken and crying uncontrollably but okay nonetheless.
Shock turned to cautious relief.
The bystanders and witnesses were all around my family and I. "Are you okay?" I remember them asking.
At that point, there were only two things going on in my mind: My family is okay and would someone please call 911.
Minutes passed, and the three of us were at the hospital. As my wife went for X-rays, I struggled to put everything together in my mind. It all came down to one inescapable conclusion: Everyone walked away from this crash because we were all wearing seatbelts.
My injuries included a sore neck and a nasty goose egg on the back of my head. My wife came away with some nasty bruises where the seatbelt grabbed her and saved her from hitting the windshield. My daughter walked away without a scratch.
Over the years, I've listened to every angle and every argument why people do and don't wear seatbelts. Every time I read about a fatal car crash where the driver and passengers weren't wearing their seatbelts, it really hits home, especially when it involves children.
It only takes a second to buckle up. It only takes a second of distraction to cause a wreck. It'll take much longer to recover from that wreck if you don't buckle that seatbelt.
I didn't need much convincing to buckle up. When I was much younger, my brother ended up in the emergency room after he banged his front teeth on the dashboard in my parent's car after my mom hit the brakes unexpectedly. Neither of them wore their seatbelt that day, but back then, very few people did.
I've worn my seatbelt ever since. My car never leaves the driveway until I know everyone is buckled up. No seatbelt, no go.
There's never a good reason to not wear a seatbelt regardless of where you're going, how fast you're going or how close to home you get.
My wife's bruises and my sore neck proved it.
-- Brian S. Orban