Let’s Talk About Seat Belts & Safety

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What would it profit a parent, who straps himself with a seat belt and leaves his children in the backseat, unprotected?

What would it profit you to live with minor abrasions, knowing that your children are either dead or incapacitated because you didn’t take a few minutes longer to ensure that they’re safe?

These questions have generated a really painful line of thoughts in my head this morning. Safety, is something a lot of Nigerians take for granted. For reasons such as laziness, or a lackadaisical attitude, we don’t pay attention to things pertaining to safety.

Driving without strapping your seat belt on was not a crime until about 10 years ago. Even when it became an offence, we still found a way to circumvent the laws. It was as if the law was not for our own safety and protection. I know a lot of bus drivers who merely sling the belt across their chests so as not to be apprehended by traffic management officials – LASTMA.

Recently, my friend got into a cab and was about to strap on the seat belt when the driver told her not to bother. According to him there was no LASTMA official on the route they were taking. She responded by telling him that she was wearing the belt for her safety and he responded ‘Na God dey save person, no be seat belt’.

Statements like this makes me incredibly sad; where does one start to effect change? How do we educate a people so mired in the belief that safety comes solely from the supernatural? How does one make people know that at the end of it all, it’s not about whether LASTMA apprehends you, but about right and wrong.

Someone suggested that we should lobby our legislators to make it law that children need to be in child seats and booster seats. It was argued that even when things like that are made into laws, it provides a wiggle room for corrupt and uninformed officials on the road to take advantage of people.

A lot of young parents have car seats but they don’t use it. It’s all about the ‘Effizy’: “Did you buy your car seat from Walmart? I bought mine from Mother Care.” Other people say their children are uncomfortable in the car seat, and as such they’d rather the child roams freely in the back seat. In other cases, the car seat is there… unoccupied and the house help is carrying the child. Even more ridiculous is the fact that some parents allow their children seat in the front seat of the car. One wonders if they have considered the deployment of the air bag, and the disastrous effect it has on a child.

Many couples who have lived abroad, have gone back to Nigeria and reverted to the ‘Nigerian Way’ of doing things? How then do we start to bring change? I’ve heard someone say that they don’t need a seat belt because they’re in the back of the car. It is mind boggling to think how very little attention we pay to these things.

Do you then blame your enemies when a crazy car spirals out of control and leaves your children in a vegetative state… because the car seat was ‘uncomfortable’?

Accidents happen; some are completely out of our control, some, we can actually prevent. Ensure that you have safety gear about. Fire extinguishers are non-negotiable. My brother lived in a building in Ajah, with no fire escape. There was NO fire extinguisher on the premises. On the day his generator exploded, and the house went up in flames, there was no fire exit and there was NO way to put out the fire. He’s been dead for 4 years now.

I know we like to leave everything in our destiny to God, but please, protect yourselves. Wear condoms, get protective gear when you go cycling, or biking and for heaven’s sakes, wear seat belts!

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