Tag Archives: driving laws

BEFORE THERE WERE SEAT BELTS

(sign on a side road 9 miles north of Fort Scott, KS)

Hi, Mom,

Here’s some driving trivia for you. Kansas adopted specific seatbelt laws in 1986, and Colorado followed in 1987. The ages for having to wear seatbelts vary slightly, but both states fine drivers when they–and their riders, especially under-age riders–do not wear seatbelts.

You used to drive anywhere and everywhere, Mom. You transported your children and grandchildren and anyone who needed a ride, and this was before seatbelt laws. When our dog Stardust scratched open her abdomen stitches after surgery, you wrapped her in an old quilt and drove her to the vet’s. I know because I helped hold Stardust in the front seat. She was miserable and her blood was seeping through the quilt, but you stayed calm, kept driving, and talked softly to Stardust as you patted her head.

That was the only time I remember us making a mess in any of the cars. We always drove D-license plates, meaning the cars were for sale at the dealership. So when you drove us and our friends to the swimming pool or youth group or any activities, if we stopped for treats or ice cream cones, we got out of the car to eat them. No messes in the car. That was the rule.

Stardust left a bloody mess in the front seat that day, and the vet couldn’t save her. Dad never said a word. We’d just lost our dog, and the rules changed when we lost a beloved pet.

Sometimes while giving our friends rides, you’d also give rides to their little brothers and sisters. I remember when you once took our young neighbors along on an errand for their mom. Brad was maybe two, and little Pammie was just a baby. Brad stood between us, kind of tucked behind your right shoulder as you drove. I held the baby, and none of us had on seat belts because I think it was only 1962. The older siblings were in the back seat, and I’m sure we all arrived safely.

Now, even though everyone wears seat belts–including children in heavy-duty safety seats (in the back seat, of course), I still resort to a safety technique I learned from you. If I have to stop or slow down quickly when I’m driving, my right arm automatically flies out to protect my passenger, even if it’s my husband, Jim. He just smiles, but our policeman son-in-law probably thinks it’s nuts. Old safety driving habits die hard, even when we’re using seatbelts.

I think you’d probably be glad you’re not driving any more, Mom.  In addition to seat belt laws, there are now laws against using cell phones or texting while driving, and some states are starting to fine drivers who engage in any activity that might distract them. (Which, in your case, Mom, would mean no putting on lipstick while you’re behind the wheel.)

Still, I smile and feel perfectly safe remembering your right arm flying out to protect your passengers, and the gentle, comforting way you patted Stardust’s head as you drove her to the vet’s.

You were a good driver, and you were–and still are–a good mom. But just between us, when you and I are out together on a ride, I get a kick out of buying us ice cream cones and eating them IN the car.

Love, Marylin

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Filed under driving laws, friends, lessons about life, making a difference, memories for grandchildren, neighbors