Saturday, February 11, 2012

Seat Belts

It was a cold snowy evening in November. Sailor was sleeping in his stroller while LV and I were finishing up the evening chores when one of our friends came into the barn. He didn't waste a lot of time on small talk before he asked if we had heard about the accident.

We hadn't heard anything and he proceeded to tell us about a van load of Amish had been going home from a frolic and had a collision with a big truck. A baby that was Sailors age had been ejected and died, everyone was treated for injuries and the baby's father was in critical condition.

After he left LV and I discussed the accident. If seat belts and a car seat would have been used there was a huge possibility that no one would have been injured but, none of the Amish used seat belts. We always used a car seat for Sailor but we never wore seat belts either. It was considered to be something only worldly people did, not quite as bad as touching a steering wheel but still not something that was done.

That accident was the turning point for our family and from that day being inside a moving vehicle meant seat belts were being used. Unfortunately for the family who lost their little baby girl it was too late to do anything. The father was paralyzed from his neck down and needed a breathing machine to be able to breathe. After spending a lot of time in the hospital he was finally released after the church made provisions to allow them to have electricity for his breathing needs and later a voice activated computer so he could still write letters. He lived like that for eleven years and just recently passed away.

Because of his huge hospital bill the Somerset County Amish finally agreed to have a benefit auction to raise money to pay it. Up until that point they had never been allowed.

I'm not personally familiar with every Amish community but with all the ones I am I only know of one family that uses seat belts when traveling. Some taxi drivers are wisely starting to insist on their use but they are then usually placed on the obnoxious driver list and not hired as often.


  1. Please tell me more about touching a steering wheel.

    I know that seatbelts save lives but I reluctantly use mine at my wife's insistance and the laws in our state.


  2. When I was little, seat belts were either used or not, no biggie, but then statistics started coming out and laws started changing and now it's just a no-brainer to put mine on, and since my kids grew up having to use one, it's just natural for them. I don't like if it wrinkles what I'm wearing (if I happen to be going someplace nice) but too bad, I wear it anyway. I think with the laws in MO, seat belts are required so I wonder if the drivers make their Amish passengers wear them? Have a good weekend!! ♥

  3. I don't know about Pennsylvania, but in NY, if seatbelts are not used by front seat passengers (and maybe even back seat ones now) the driver can be ticketed. I,personally, think seat belts are a life saver, as uncomfortable and restricting as they are.

    This brings up a question in my mind, Are the Amish not required to follow the laws of the state on any given thing, since it may be against their beliefs?

  4. It is my biggest pet peeves when it comes to driving Amish. Lack of seatbelt. In some state only front passenger but not in back. I require EVERYBODY to wear. Where I live, it is required for babies to be in rear facing seat which I latch into latch inside seat (not simply buckled in, seatbelt is not THAT reliable). My oldest is 7 and she still use booster seat. Likely she will use it until at least age 8 (required age in California). I don't like locals to drive our girls because they have much looser "requirement".... one even claimed ignorance. Well, hello?! you have driver license and it is YOUR responsiblity to know what's the law before you hit any road any distance!!! I've moved out of state (from MI to IA) and no Amish around here... I'm relieved of this pet peeve!

    I grew up without seatbelt. That doesn't mean you cannot learn. It should come automatically as long as you have driver license in responsiblity!

    I will remember this accident for rest of my life. It happened 12 days before my wedding. It is crystal clear to police that it is not my fault. My car was undrivable, same as other car. Other car (oncoming) turned in front of me. I couldn't stop in time. I'm afraid of what it'd be like if my baby sister (then age 14) and I didn't wear seatbelt! My knees still hit the dashboard (the part below steering wheel). Both of us had minor injuries from belts holding us back. Sis had minor airbag injuries, not me (both bags deployed). I much much prefer these than injuries we would have without!!!!

    Keep it up, stick to "belt everybody" rule!!!!

  5. Only exception that I know of is medical release from DOCTOR of which you will need to show to law officer. No excemptions based on religions of any kind. Wanna go without belts? Go offroad!

  6. There is nothing in the Amish religion that would make wearing a seatbelt sinful for them. As more drivers insist on their passengers wearing them I'm sure with time they will accept it more readily.

  7. @Kathleen - from what I've read, it depends on the particular state law and and any religious objections to it. I was living in Ohio when an Amish man filed a lawsuit challenging the law that deer hunters have to wear bright orange (vest, cap, etc.) I might be mistaken, but I'm pretty sure the Ohio Supreme Court said "Wear the orange or stop hunting." It's not like there's some religious requirement to hunt deer. Currently, there's a dispute in Kentucky over whether the Amish have to put orange triangles on the backs of their buggies. I don't know where that will go. I think it boils down to:

    a) Does the action/inaction have a genuinely religious purpose?

    b) Is that outweighed by a legitimate government purpose?

    For example, I believe the Amish are allowed to stop schooling their children after 8th grade, even though non-Amish children have to go to school longer.

    One could argue that the government's purpose in keeping people from killing each other is more important than the government's purpose in keeping children in school for a few years longer.

  8. There are a lot of stupid laws on the books but using seat belts isn't one of them. More people die from NOT using them than from using them.

  9. It seems foolish and unkind to not put seat belts on, both on your children and on yourself. You would only be offering sadness if no seatbelts were used. I don't see how a safety device could be considered against religious views. And think about those involved in accidents who don't get killed - they have to live the rest of their lives knowing that a child or adult was killed in the accident, not because of the driver's fault - but because someone was selfish enough to not care about their child's safety, or their child's future without parents if the parent is killed. Common sense tells us to protect our children at any cost.

  10. I have worn seat belts since January 1. 1979 and the same goes for little ones using car seats. I was a passenger in the back seat of a car when the driver hit a median on an icy road. I held my 3 month old son flat down on the seat as we skidded and the next thing I knew, I woke up in a hospital. My son slept through it all and was ok, but I ended up with a ruptured spleen and a fractured skull. I hope everyone realizes how important seat belts are in saving lives.

  11. I remember listening to an Oklahoma Highway Patrolman explain that automobiles provide room to live, if we have a seat belt on keep inside. Everyone has heard at least one third to fourth-hand story where a seat belt caused a death. I doubt those stories, and believe the officer!

  12. Seat belts are a life saving device,as are air bags. The use on children under the age of 18 should be mandatory.
    My only issue lies in the government forcing me to do something which in no way effects others. I can not see where my choice of whether to wear a seat belt causes issues for others. Same with wearing a helmet riding a motorcycle.
    Too much government intrusion I think.
    Do I wear seat belts, Well Yeah, it's the law. Would I wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle, well Yeah !
    It seems to me we are becoming more and more obsessed with living forever ! Not going to happen.

  13. Just wanted to add that not only using carseats and seat belts but using them correctly! We had a tragic accident locally a few years ago.. Older gentlemen blacked out temporarily and crossed over the yellow line hitting a car with a family head on.. The infant was ejected from the carrier and vehicle.. I knew IMMEDIATELY that the e only way THAT happened was if the infant was not properly locked in.. and the investigation showed that. The parents did not have the chest strap buckle on the straps because the * baby did not like it*.. so upon impact the baby was easily flipped out from between the loose strap.. so sad and so easily avoided....

  14. Ben, you say your decision to wear a seat belt or a helmet doesn't affect anyone but you. Does your family not love you enough to miss you when you die?

    When the seat belt laws first went into effect in Maryland our daughters didn't always want to wear them. One day our eldest was getting ready to pull out of the drive when my husband asked her about the belt. "Oh, I'm not going far enough to bother." He opened the car door. "Then you're not going far enough to drive. Buckle up or walk." She buckled up.

  15. I like that answer Lady Anne!

    I grew up on a dangerous corner where cars were forever going off the road. And I've SEEN the results of people being thrown out of cars because they weren't belted in. I ALWAYS where a belt, as do any passengers in my car.

  16. Oh my...
    My parents knew that family personally. The father that was injured in the wreck was a good friend of my father. They used to be in the same circle letter.
    Since we left the Amish 8 yrs ago, I'd heard very little about him & had been wondering how he was doing so far. Didn't know he passed away till I read this. We lived in IN at the time & I remember going with my parents to visit him, shortly after he came home from hospital, while we were enroute to Lancaster Co, Pa.
    I don't recall the amish that I grew up with having any issue about using the seatbelts BUT more so about not over loading the vans, when traveling far. Some drivers were more strict on everyone using seatbelts versus others. I personally used it if I could. And since I left the amish, I am very strict on that rule & to have my kids strapped in properly too. I was in a wreck a yr ago & I can't imagine what it would've been like, if my dau hadn't been strapped in properly & me too. Our only injuries were small seatbelt burns & I had a big airbag burn/bruise on my arm. I also had a small whiplash.

  17. Seat belts in MO are only mandatory for the driver and passenger in the front seat of the vehicle. Back seat seat belts are not mandatory.
    (Infants and children up to 8 years old are excluded from this and have their own set of mandatory restraints according to age and size)

  18. Barbara, I would love to ask you some questions and hear a little more from you. If you could please send me an email at ajoyfulnoise(at)

  19. Rules regarding to usage of seat belts are different in the different province. but people have to use seat belts generally during travel time. Seat belts usage will reduce the danger of injury during accident up to 40%.
    rent villas in spain


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