Tempting Fate
Written by
Bridget Straub
April 2012
Written by
Bridget Straub
April 2012

Why is it that we are so often tempted to test fate? I know it’s human nature, and yet it makes me crazy when adults in particular do so repeatedly. When adults tempt fate with kids in the car it really makes me crazy, and when an adult has been asked not to do it again, but does, I am at a loss to understand why.

I have very strong feelings about seatbelts that were hammered home many years ago in my son’s pediatrician’s office. There was an article posted in every examining room that explained the impact of car accidents as related to how fast the car was traveling. For example, a car hit by another car traveling at only 20 miles per hour may seem like nothing, however to an unrestrained child the impact will be the same as if that child got out of the car and ran into a brick wall at 20 miles per hour. Stop and think about that, because I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t run 20 miles per hour if I tried, and yet I still know that I don’t want to run into a wall, no matter how slow I’m going.

My daughter is in a carpool, and when it got back to me that one of the drivers was placing two kids in one seatbelt, I was not happy. I know many of us grew up bouncing around the backseats of our parents cars, but much like smoking, we know better now.  The most common cause of death in children ages 3 to 14 is car accidents. Kids doubled-buckled can have severe abdominal injuries as well as spinal injuries.

I asked the driver to call me if she ever found herself with more kids then she had seatbelts for. I explained as nicely as possible that I had very strong feelings on this subject and she said she completely understood. I reiterated that I would be happy to make alternate arrangements for my daughter, as well as any other kids that she couldn’t accommodate, and she promised she would call if it ever came up again.

Today, my daughter came home and happened to mention that this driver had been involved in an accident earlier in the day. She had not been at fault but her car had been towed. When I asked my daughter whose car she’d been picked up in, she said the driver’s husband’s car. I asked if there were enough seatbelts, and she admitted that two kids had doubled up again. Why? It was a rainy day in which the driver had seen firsthand that no matter how good a driver you are, accidents happen. What about that scenario had suggested this was a good day to take a risk?

This woman is one of the nicest women I know. She’s clearly intelligent, and I’m sure she would never wish any harm to any of the kids she drives.  For whatever the reason, though, she must think she can beat the odds. The thing is, I can’t allow my child to be a player in a game of chance. The potential outcome would be too devastating for everyone.

What is obvious is that most people refuse to look at the potential repercussions of a decision such as this. How horrible would it be to have to make the call to a parent telling them that you injured their child because you thought it was just a short ride? How would you explain it to the other kids in the car? What remorse would you be left with if it was your child that was the victim? There would be such an impact left on so many lives.

My daughter’s excuse for not calling me herself, was that it was cold and she didn’t want to wait in the rain for another ride. Understandable, but annoying, since I have been very clear about this for all twelve years of her life. This brings up an equally disturbing problem.  What is this teaching my child? She is at a critical age when it comes to negotiating rules and peer pressure. When she sees adults disregarding not only the rules I have set, but the laws we are all required to follow, it undermines all that I have taught her.

I have no choice but to protect my child, so now I am going to have to risk offending someone who I am sure is only trying to be helpful. If anything were to happen to my child I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself. Therefore, I cannot and will not tempt fate.

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