Convincing ride

Friday, September 15, 2006

There are plenty of things to do at the SEMO District Fair, including all kinds of thrilling rides. But one ride making its debut at this year's fair not only gives fairgoers a jolt, it also gives them a lifesaving lesson.

The ride is called the Seat Belt Convincer. It made its first appearance at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia last month. Soon, all nine of the Missouri State Highway Patrol troops will have their own Seat Belt Convincer to use for demonstrations at schools and fairs.

The three-second ride may not seem like a big deal, but riders come off the Seat Belt Convincer with a better understanding of why wearing a seat belt is a good idea. The ride simulates a vehicle's impact with a stationary object at low speed. Jarred riders quickly calculate on their own how it might feel at high speed.

The highway patrol and the Southeast Coalition for Roadway Safety are sponsoring the Seat Belt Convincer at the fair. They are trying to improve Missouri's statistics for wearing seat belts. The latest survey, taken last year, shows 77 percent of motorists in the Show Me State wear seat belts, well below the national average of 82 percent.

The highway patrol has convincing statistics of its own regarding seat belts. For example, five of the 13 individuals killed over the Labor Day weekend in accidents on Missouri's highways were not wearing seat belts.

The Seat Belt Convincer is a good way to let people experience the force of an auto crash without suffering any injuries. There are laws that require seat belts to be used. But it shouldn't take a law to make people act prudently to protect themselves.

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