Too many people have died in my area due to NO seatbelts. My mom's car has sensors in the front seats only. They are a pain in the rear to listen to-so whomever is up front is always buckled!
I just started driving-Tomorrow will be 1 month since I got my Driver Permit-I don't think I have ever ridden in a car without being buckled up! I make sure now more than ever-while driving-that I am buckled!!
Buckling up is each firefighters responsibility, the officer is responsible for making sure they do it, but if there is an accident, the blame for someone not following the law, rests solely on the driver of the vehicle. On my rig, I had the choice, of not rolling until they were ready to go, no matter how loud they get, stand your ground and make it happen.
I joined an old school fire department which did not drill into me as a rookie to wear my seatbelt in the trucks - strange though, I would never forget my seatbelt in my private vehicle.
I am glad you brought this issue up - we should be talking about it. We should be teaching our staff - especially our new members - since we all need to understand that they are not invincible. And that the community practices under a different level of attention to safety than we must practice. And old school attitudes, must go by the wayside on this matter of safety.
The exact moment that I started making a solid practice of putting on my seatbelt BEFORE moving the truck EVER was the day enroute to a flames-showing house fire with people trapped inside (so the radio was going nuts), I could have died being hit head-on by a tractor-trailer.
As I approached a few cars, they pulled over to the right for me, just as I was about to negotiate a left-handed blind corner. In my area, we have full shoulders to our roads. The tractor-trailer coming at me took the blind curve too fast and too wide (on a 2 lane road) while I, driving our rescue truck (lights and sirens), was on the other side of the curve.
I was still several feet from the yellow lines - still well on my side - but I prefer to drive closer to the white line in general. The truck coming at me was on my side of the yellow lines.
I braked and swerved and barely missed crashing into the vehicles pulled over to my right, as I came to a dramatic stop inches from one of them - though I was able to pull my truck fully off the right side of the road when I stopped, past the white line, it was scary for everyone. As I sat frozen for a few seconds collecting my wits, still with lights and sirens running, all of the vehicles sat frozen around me - EXCEPT the tractor trailer who just drove off as though he did not almost hit a fire truck head-on.
As quick as I could I called my dispatcher to warn the other trucks coming beyond me to watch out for the tractor trailer who was recklessly headed their way and to advise that my rescue truck would be delayed to the house fire for a few minutes - while I double-checked to make sure nothing fell off the truck or was damaged.
THEN I LOOKED DOWN AND REALIZED THAT I DID NOT HAVE MY SEATBELT ON !!!
AND MY HUMAN BODY ALMOST BECAME A SQUISHED TRACTOR TRAILER HOOD ORNAMENT
While I was driving cautiously, and slowed down to pass the pulled over cars, which allowed me to react so quickly, the situation was somewhat out of my control. I was only in charge of a few variables in the situation.
I NEVER drove (or rode in) another fire truck, rescue, ambulance, or private vehicle without my seatbelt safely secured after that moment !!!
I also remind / require everyone in my truck to buckle up - whether I am the driver or not !
I was new to the department, and yes considered even more carefully every driving moment thereafter. The lesson of safety was not lost on me.
I also put my gear on before I get in the vehicle or when I get out, so that I do not have to take my seatbelt off enroute to adjust/dress in gear, even if someone else is driving.
I also tried to never pass pulled over vehicles on curves again as well - since it was a compounding factor. I also learned to be more confident waving cars to move on when they pulled over in an area which I felt was putting them or myself at risk.
Even though I missed the tractor trailer, I could have hit the pulled over cars, or a tree as I swerved - since we know those FD trucks do not swerve... or stop !!!
And while I have unbuckled a few dead people, the number of those lives saved by seatbelts is so great, there is no comparison. It is not just about our driving skills, we can not make up for the driving errors of others - which almost killed me !!! My reckless contribution was not wearing my seatbelt !!!
I still ended up being the first truck on scene, and one of the first people - but the homeowner died in that house fire, and it bothered me that if those few minutes had not been wasted, he would not have died of smoke inhalation before we could drag him out.
I assure you I was not bragging when I stated I was the first truck on scene - I was expressing the timing only and moment of chaos which happened moments after this incident and the pivotal role this moment may have played in the death of the homeowner - my friend. And the delay to the few men already on scene who were awaiting equipment from my vehicle... who needed to focus on the fire, not a potential traffic accident... and FFs in danger.
btw the next fire truck behind me got the license plate number of the tractor trailer - and the cops gave him a huge ticket for failure to yield to an emergency vehicle. But I would have liked reckless endangerment or something a little more harsh.
An officer was my passenger... who is also a professional truck driver in his work life... so I assure you, my actions were analyzed... and appreciated. And my officer is the one that required the cops to write the other driver a ticket.
The reason the tractor trailer driver was treated as such - he had just passed the burning house which had no firefighters or trucks at it. He was one of the people who had called in the house fire - on his truck radio - which led to him being distracted while driving, and thus taking a wide corner. However, since prior to passing my truck, he had passed 2 first responder private vehicles with their red lights on, so he knew that fire trucks were in the area - and he had called to invite more. So thus, the ticket for failing to yield to the emergency vehicle - came from the grace of my officer - since the tractor trailer driver was seeking help.