June 30, 2020
I loved my Volkswagen Bug. That was the car of my dreams, growing up in Iowa. It symbolized the California lifestyle I longed for. I finally got my own Bug; and it transported me on my drive to move from Iowa to California in 1987. When I got my Bug in the 80’s; it had the lap seat belts, like the kind on airplanes. Those type of seatbelts had been required since 1964 for new vehicles. My Bug was a 1972. Seat belt laws were just coming into effect, and in 1986, both Iowa and California made wearing a seatbelt mandatory.
“There were no regulations for seat belt performance in the U.S. until after National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 created what is now the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA). The first seat belt law—federal law Title 49 of the United States Code, Chapter 301, Motor Vehicle Safety Standard—took effect in 1968. The law required manufacturers to fit seat belts into vehicles.
Yet, the use of seat belts didn’t become mandatory until each state in the U.S. established their own seat belt laws. In 1984 New York became the first state to mandate that drivers use a seat belt. Over the next eleven years 48 other states instituted seat belt use laws. New Hampshire is the only U.S. state without a seat belt use law for drivers.” quoted from https://saferide4kids.com/blog/history-of-seat-belts-effective/
What made me think about my Bug and Seatbelts today? Well, my prompt today from calm.com said “Listen to someone else’s perspective today.” So I read several opinions about wearing face masks in this time of COVID. Thus a flashback to the Bug. My mind is a fascinating thing to me…
Wearing a face mask to protect myself and others in 2020 is similar to the perspectives in the 1980’s; when mandatory seatbelt laws, as well as mandatory helmet laws for motorcycle operation were coming into reality.
From my experience back then, I remember the effects of these mandatory laws upon me. First, the motorcycle helmet laws. When I was 16 years old, in 1979, my father had a debilitating closed head injury, which placed him on a hospital rehabilitation unit for months. During that time visiting daily, I saw many young people in their 20’s who had been in motorcycle accidents. This was before the helmet law. I will say my daily interaction observing those young patients made a lasting impact upon me; and an understanding of the importance of wearing a helmet.
As a teenager I remember a few devastating accidents in my small town, where young people were in car accidents without seatbelts; and died or had severe life altering injuries. This made a lasting impact upon me.
So in 1987, making my cross country journey seatbelt laws and public education about wearing seatbelts were more prevalent. Even then, my Bug had only lap belts. It was too old of a vehicle to have the three-point harness style of seatbelt that were installed in newer vehicles of the time. I made it cross country. After arriving in California and with more news in the public about safety concerns, I realized I might need more protection. Thankfully my dear auto mechanic; specializing in German cars like my Bug, recommended switching out my lap belts for three-point harness style. I didn’t have much money at the time. It was an huge investment, AND I felt well worth it. It was about safety.
So on this day, I am to listen to someone else’s perspectives. I look back and see I am at another point in history where perspectives are in conflict. COVID-19 is continuing to rear it’s ugly head. Wearing a mask, social distancing and staying home continue to be shared as more than just an ounce of prevention. However, just like seatbelts… just like helmets… just like many other things in the history of humankind; people do not like to be told what to do for their safety. And it is human nature to fight against change.
On this day, Vice President of the United States, Michael Pence; who is in charge of the Coronavirus Task Force, “wore a face mask to a public briefing… where the message from the surgeon general and others was clear – Americans should to do the same while in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
As one friend commented when sharing this with me, “How many lives could he have saved if he had done this in March?”
It is indeed concerning. For anyone going through driver’s education in the late 1970’s/early 80’s — we remember seeing the graphic films about the difference of wearing a seatbelt vs. not wearing one.
Today we have countless deaths, and stories of the people and the groups of people affected by COVID-19, and how they were impacted by this virus. A literal car crash right in front of our eyes, and the response to try and prevent the crash has been avoided.
So now, our government leaders are encouraging wearing face masks. I didn’t have to wait for today to listen to other’s perspectives. For months, I have read on social media or on the neighborhood email groups like NextDoor, people’s resistance to wearing face masks or taking other precautions with COVID-19.
As a sign of divine intervention; I went to my mailbox today and received a package from dear friends… they sent me three gorgeous face masks, made with love. I have a whole collection now. I don’t leave the house without a mask on… just like I don’t drive my car without my three-point harness seatbelt on. Motorcycles… well, that’s another story… I don’t go near them.
That’s my perspective.
May we all be safe and consider changes that are needed at this time; for the whole of our country and our society.
May it be so…