Letter to the Editor

Belts cause harm in some cases

Saturday, December 4, 2004

Missouri state Sen. Jon Dolan has said tougher legislation requiring seat belt usage will pass or other bills will die.

I believe seat belts can save your life in the right accident. But how do I know which accident I will be in? What about people with special needs like me? I have advanced cirrhosis of the liver with portal hypertension. I know this is a death sentence, but wearing a seat belt in my condition is even more of a death sentence.

Portal hypertension is caused by obstructed blood flow through the liver, causing my spleen to malfunction. This causes my abdomen to be tender at all times and my spleen ready to rupture with almost no provocation. If Dolan has his way, I will be forced to wear a seat belt or pay dearly in court. When I wear a seat belt and ride with someone who has to put on the brakes without warning, the seat belt tightens against my abdomen, causing intense pain.

If the state's intention is to save lives by requiring seat-belt usage, why is it still legal to smoke cigarettes, sky dive, race cars or ride motorcycles? Manufacturers should be required to put seat belts in vehicles, and people who don't have special needs should be encouraged, not required, to wear them.

Wouldn't it be a shame if the person driving me had to slam on the brakes and my seat belt caused my spleen to rupture, killing me when there was no accident?

STEVE HAY, Cape Girardeau