I haven't discussed the merits of seatbelts in quite some time, so I thought I would throw this out there. Whenever I go a few months without getting reminded of their importance, the universe hits me with something as subtle as getting slapped in the face with a fish.
I will start by saying that this story is boring. If you'd like to tune out now and go watch some videos of cats, feel free. It'll probably be more interesting, much funnier, and far more educational. Hell, I think I'll go watch some myself instead of writing this stupid, boring post.
No, no, no. This is far too important, and Steve was far too stupid.
Steve was a lovely gentleman in his 60's who, based on his slovenly appearance, was apparently never properly taught how to use a toothbrush, a hairbrush, or a bar of soap. Though I suspect his relative dearth of teeth and crazy Albert Einsteinesque hair had nothing to do with him running his truck into a utility pole at over 100 kph, I have a strong feeling that his truck was simply trying to commit suicide to avoid his stench. The fact that he was ejected from the vehicle after the crash only strengthened my suspicion that the truck was desperate to get rid of him.
He was unconscious when the medics first found him in a ditch about 10 meters from his truck, having been thrown out the roof (which had torn open like a tin can). His dog had been thrown 5 meters further and had not survived. He started to wake up in the ambulance and was unfortunately appropriately obnoxious when he arrived.
"This is Steve", the medics started. "He was the unrestrained (read: no seatbelt) driver of a truck which ran into a pole. The pole won. He's complaining of chest and back pain."
"Not wearing your seatbelt? Why not?" I asked him. I am quite certain the look he returned me was one of absolute defiance. What he said, however, was so ridiculous I nearly laughed.
"Because if I had been wearing it, I'd be dead now!" he said.
I decided not to press the issue at that very moment, because I knew there would be plenty of time for that later. I pushed on his chest which earned me an "OW!" from his mouth and a distinct *crunch* from his chest wall. An X-ray confirmed multiple rib fractures on both sides, but fortunately his lungs hadn't collapsed. In addition to lacerations on his scalp and lip, he had fractures in his thoracic spine, lumbar spine, multiple ribs, and sternum (breast bone).
Steve stayed with me in the hospital for several days, mainly because he hurt all over and couldn't walk. All the while I was biding my time, waiting for the right opportunity to bring up the seatbelt issue again. I like to do that when family members are around just to strengthen the effect. Not surprisingly, no one came. Steve went home a few days later, the opportunity to educate him lost.
I had the opportunity a week later when he came back to see me in my office. With his wife.
He was only slightly less disheveled and smelled slightly better (that is, slightly less worse) than when I met him. His wife, on the other hand, looked surprisingly well-put together. After doing my examination and determining that he was healing just fine, I launched into my seatbelt tirade. His wife was nodding through the entire speech, but Steve himself remained with a defiant look on his face.
"Look Doc, I've been in car accidents before," he started. "I've broken this leg, this ankle, this arm, this shoulder, and a bunch of ribs in other accidents. I probably would've died if I had been wearing one of those damned death traps. The only thing that saved me was getting thrown free of the wreck."
I looked at him dumbfounded. Other accidents? How many? Are you the worst driver in the world?
"No, Steve. That is not the way that physics works. Have you ever considered that if you had been wearing your seatbelt, you wouldn't have broken all those bones?
"Put it on, Steve. Or else the next time you might not be so lucky. Just PUT IT ON."
That goes for all of you, too.