Dad’s dislike of seat belts

In 1986 in California, it became mandatory for everyone over the age of 16 to wear a seat belt while in a car. There was a major advertising campaign to make the public aware, along with the threat of being pulled over by the police and receiving a fine. My mom and I had no problem with the law; I think we were already used to wearing our seat belts because of my mom’s focus on safety. But my dad was another matter.

For some reason, he HATED wearing a seat belt. When the law took effect, every trip in the car became a battle over the seat belt. Dad would refuse to wear it and Mom would nag him endlessly about it. Sometimes, as a compromise, he would drape the belt over his shoulder, to pretend he was wearing it. (I’m sure this could have been quite dangerous, maybe even as much as not wearing the seat belt at all!) Often, we would ride around town in fear of a cop pulling us over for a seat belt violation.

Dad said the seat belt felt like it was choking him, and he didn’t like to be restricted by it. He was not interested in Mom’s statistics on how seat belts save lives. It was one thing he was really stubborn about. I can’t remember how long he kept his anti-seat belt campaign alive. I know once they retired to New Mexico, he would wear his seat belt, so I guess he got over his extreme aversion.

But since he was so sensitive about it, it made me wonder if being hooked up to all of those machines at the end of his live gave him that same feeling of being restricted in movement. He was too weak to offer up much of a fight at that point. I’m guessing that wherever Dad is now, no seat belts are required.

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