Opinion

Watch 1980s Drivers Freak Out About Having To Wear A Seat Belt

Gif: The Daily Show With Trevor Noah

In the distant past of the 1980s a new wave of regulation hit drivers by surprise. Local and state governments began mandating seat belt usage, and responses from people across the nation were hilariously absurd.

Many consumers of the 1970s and 1980s resisted car safety technology and regulations. The seat belt had been around, but few drivers strapped themselves in. You’d think the idea of not getting sent through the windshield of a car would have been enough of a motivating force, but drivers still put up a fight. When governments mandated the use of seat belts via what are now often called “Click It Or Ticket” rules, the responses were pretty hilarious.

The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah sees parallels between how drivers reacted to seat belt laws decades ago and how people are reacting to vaccine mandates today. A hilarious video clip from the show is circulating around social media:

A little bit of everything is in there from a guy saying that he’ll take the long way around to avoid places with seat belt laws to another guy saying that seat belt laws take away freedom. That same driver went on to say that not wearing a seat belt is a choice. It does sound a lot like the arguments you see on social media about masks and vaccine mandates, though that should be no surprise, as Trevor Noah notes: “Mandates by their nature build resistance.”

Still, it’s bewildering that someone would intentionally make a drive longer just to avoid putting on a damn seat belt. But perhaps the most amusing excuse for not wearing a seat belt is that they wrinkle clothes.

Of course, safety is viewed in a different light today. Seat belts are such a normal part of driving that hearing drivers of decades past complain about wearing them is a bit of a laugh. Today’s consumers often go for vehicles with the latest safety features and the highest safety ratings; it’s clear that views on vehicle safety have changed, at least to some degree.

It should be obvious that seat belts do a great job of keeping you from becoming a meatbag projectile in a crash. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said a few years ago that crash fatalities would be cut in half if everyone wore one, despite an 86 percent seat belt usage rate (belt usage hit a record high of 90.7 percent in 2019, per NHTSA).

Sadly, it seems that more people drove around unbelted in 2020, and fatalities due to occupant ejection went up as a result. Even with all of the mind-boggling technology that cars have today, wearing your seat belt is still a critical safety measure.

Also a critical safety measure? Getting vaccines and wearing masks.




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