Hello neighbor and welcome back to the Highway Patrol Blues. Have you noticed those darn trees with the yellow leaves?! It wasn?t all that long ago that I was cutting the grass in my Speedos, and now I?m getting bundled up just to go outside in the morning. It seems to me that my next door neighbors appreciate fall more than I do.
As a kid, I loved fall. I grew up in a small prairie town and the changing of the leaves signaled the end of gopher season and the beginning of partridge season. Oh boy, there was nothing better than fresh partridge stew and grandma?s fresh baked bread. Even to this day, I don?t think I have ever had such a wonderful meal.
Looking back, I guess our family was poor, but I never knew it. The only thing that I do recall was that all of the rich kids brought bolgonie sandwiches to school, and all I had was gopher on stick. I tried to trade with them, but somehow I was never successful. Anyways, I was thinking how different things are now. The story I?m going to tell you happened to my grandfather in a rural Manitoba country school.
My grandfather was 16 years old when they built the first school back in the bush where he lived. Try to imagine a grade one classroom room full of 16 year olds. Ok, maybe you don?t have to imagine that hard, but way back then, it was an anomaly. All the boys going to school carried a .22 cal rifle, or a shotgun, just in case you saw something on the way to school or on the way home. At noon all of the boys would play baseball and they would rest their guns against the backstop. One day a young boy picked up a shotgun by the end of the barrel and sure enough, it went off, blowing the kid?s fingers off.
The school called the parents together and had a meeting to see if they could come up with some new rules. One parent said guns should not be allowed at school, but that was crazy talk and the idea was voted down. Another parent said that there should be a locker for guns. Nope, too expensive for country folk and that too, was voted down. After some back and forth, they finally came to a consensus and decided that, while playing baseball, all guns against the backstop had to be unloaded. That rule worked really well for a lot of years. Oi vey, can you imagine what would happen if a kid brought a gun to school these days? Oh wait, I guess that you don?t have to imagine….
Anywho, let?s get to work.
Speaking of rules, let?s talk about seatbelts. Pop quiz!! I?ll make this quiz easy, no short answer, just multiple guess.
Question: Why are seatbelts mandatory?
A) Because they are a safety device? (Don?t pick this one just to suck up.)
B) Because the government make millions of dollars a year in seatbelt fines? (Pick this answer if you want to prove to yourself that you are a redneck.)
C) Because seatbelts are totally cool? OR
D) Because big brother wants to control you and this is how he reminds you everyday that you are not a free being? (Can?t help you here, please see the doc.)
The correct answer is that seatbelts are part one of a two part safety system built into your vehicle. Part two comprises of the airbag. Take a look at the covering on the airbag. It will likely be stamped with the following initials. ?SRS.? SRS means secondary restraint system. Your primary restraint system is the lap and harness seatbelt. So, before you say, ?I?ll skip the belt and just relay on the airbag.? Let me fill you in on the mechanics of a crash.
When your vehicle crashes into another object, your vehicle stops and ALL occupants and items in your vehicle continue to travel at the same speed that your vehicle was traveling before the impact. The first thing that you will feel is your body lamming into the steering wheel, the dash, or various other parts of the vehicle. But wait, there?s more. Your internal organs also continue to travel at pre-impact speeds until they too slam against your skeletal structure. This causes all sorts of internal injuries for which the medical community has all sorts of fancy names. Mush is what first responders call it.
If you are lucky enough to have a brain, that too slams against your skull causing swelling of the brain, bleeding in the brain, and sometimes a basal skull fracture. (For a good time, Google basal skull
fracture.) By the way, do you know what the most common way to get a head injury in a car crash is? It?s by UNBELTED occupants banging heads against each other during the crash. Another way to get your very own
brain injury is by being unbelted and subsequently ejected at highway speeds and whacking your head against a stone, the ditch, a fencepost, the road, the vehicle itself, or a ton of other items.
So, how exactly do seatbelts work? First, they displace energy from the crash over a large portion of the body. In fact the large bones in the body are used for much of the absorption. (See, it does pay to be big boned.) Secondly, the seatbelt holds you in place so that you don?t hit the airbag at 300 kilometers an hour, (100 KMH your highway speed + 200 KMH the explosive speed of the airbag.) In addition, seatbelts holds all occupants in place so that they do not slam into the pavement at highway speeds, or into each other.
I know I have been very graphic is some of the descriptions, however it is vital that this information be shared. If you are a mom or a dad of a teenage child, please harp on them to make sure that they wear a belt. If your significant other refuses to wear a belt, now you have some information that you can share with them about the value of seatbelts.
For the rest of the month of September and for the entire month of October, the police will be concentrating their enforcement on seatbelt use. With the days getting shorter and the wild animals on the move, the chance of a crash go up at this time of year. To make matter worse, you can expect black ice on bridge decks and in shaded areas on the highway. This is always good for a rollover or two. Since seatbelts work, we will be out in force to make sure that they are being used.
In future columns, I?ll speak further about the mechanics of a crash and share some information that just might save your life one day. If you have any questions or comments, please drop me a line at:
Sgt. Kurt Peats,
1230 102 Ave.
Dawson Creek, BC
I?ll respond to the questions via the newspaper as likely many other people have the same query.
We?ll talk again next week the good Lord willing. I have to go now and play in traffic.
Keep it between the ditches.
Sgt. Kurt Peats