Many years ago, a teenaged girl sauntered gingerly into the Road Transport Department in Ipoh early one morning to take her driving test. Feeling confident but a little bit nervous, she patiently waited for her turn. Name after name was called but still it was not hers. And then finally at about noon, she was called to take the wheel and perform the slope test. This required good leg control and balance of the clutch and gas pedal, driving the car up an incline, stopping at the marked position, applying the hand brake and then putting out a hand to signal that you’re done.
Nerves got the better of her and on her first attempt, the car slid backwards down the slope. Never mind, she thought. Everybody was given two chances to get it right. And whaddya know, she aced it the second time round!
Next she drove the car to the area where the parking tests were taking place. She had three tests to complete: The three-point turn, the L parking and the side parking. All of which she completed on the first attempt in no time at all. She could feel her confidence rising at that point. The end was in sight now.
She went over for the final task of the day: the road test. She got into the car, adjusted her seat, the mirrors, gave the test card to the examiner and they were off. She was a tad nervous too because unlike most of the other people taking the road test, this girl did not opt to bribe the examiner for an easy pass in the test. Most people feel the bribe is necessary, because according to them it is impossible to pass without bribing.
Nonsense, the girl thought, and she went about the works in a very clockwork manner. The gear shifting was smooth, and the halts were executed perfectly, without any jerks or “mati engine” incidents. Then finally the 15-minute-or-so ride ended. The girl pulled the car to a stop, and pulled the handbrake, feeling the excitement rising in her, expecting to get her driving license the very day itself.
Then the examiner looked at her, smiled and said she did wonderfully that day. The test card showed that she had passed all the relevant items. However, she forgot to do one important thing, which was to strap on the seat belt, and for that one single thing, unfortunately, the examiner had to fail her and she would have to retake the test all over again.
If you haven’t yet figured out, that girl was me, and I have never forgotten that lesson. Of course, I passed the test the second time round, and it goes without saying that the first thing I did when I got into the car was to strap on the seat belt! See? One can STILL pass without bribery!
Anyway, I am very happy that the recent law states that everyone in the car needs to be seatbelt-strapped now. Driver, co-driver, rear passengers as well as babies, toddlers and kids. Before the imposition of this rule, some people even think of the act of wearing the seat belt as a move to appease the authorities. So you’ll hear people saying things like,
“Aiya, short distance only, no need to wear one la. Besides, there are no policemen around.”
Such is the sorry and erroneous thinking some people have.
And what about folks who claim that their kids and babies refuse to be in car seats? Well, it’s all the fault of the parents to begin with. Kids were trained and conditioned to think that they can get away with NOT being in car seats, so that’s how they behave now. Some parents, for their own personal reasons, opt to get cheaper car seats because they are unsure if their kids would want to sit in them. Getting a branded, more expensive version would then be construed as a waste of money.
But then would you compromise the life of your kid with a cheaper model of a car seat which is not tested to withstand impact and collision? That’s just like buying something for showing off that does not even serve its function. Would you skimp on money just so your child’s ride in the car is unsafe? Why would anyone in their right mind buy all the lovely clothes and hi-tech toys for their child, but fail to provide for them in the one important aspect, that is safety in the car? Why??? And I tell you, these parents are the very same ones who would not think twice about spending an arm and a leg on designer clothes and perfumes. Priorities, indeed!
On the other hand, there are also parents who have no choice but to put the car seat in the co-driver’s seat in front, because they claim that baby will cry if left alone in the back seat. However, they forget that this too poses a danger to the child if the front seat has airbags installed. What if there is an accident that triggers the expansion of the airbag? Will the excuse of the baby crying for fear of being left alone seem logical then? I read somewhere that the co-driver has the highest risk of all in the event of an accident. Are these parents willing to face this responsibility?
Oh, and as for folks who *complain* that car seats for infants and toddlers are too expensive, then I’m afraid the wisest thing to do is of course to NOT take your kids out for a ride in the car. Either walk or just don’t go out. I’m sorry, but the reason given that
“Last time when I was small, my father also never put me in car seat what…”
doesn’t hold this time round. There are certainly MORE cars on the road now, all moving at a much higher speed and when now there is a car seat invented to provide safety and protection to our kids, why are we choosing to shun that?
Of course I could rant on and on about the importance of being strapped in whilst in the car, but I won’t. I just hope that the authorities would do a good job of enforcing this rule. Rather than putting up road blocks to check the tint levels on vehicles, I’m sure *business* would thrive even more if they started checking on the seat belt issue.
And while we are on this topic, why aren’t bus passengers provided seat belts (like those on the plane, at least)? I’m sure you’ll all agree that most buses move even more dangerously than cars?