Some of the lamest excuses for not buckling up
How often do you “click it” when you’re behind the wheel? Unless your answer is “all the time,” you could be putting yourself — and your auto insurance premium — at risk.
Failing to buckle up can result in a traffic ticket, and just one ticket can lead to a higher auto insurance premium.
To reduce the chances of getting a ticket for failing to buckle up, some drivers have tried excuses that verge on hysterical – not to mention unsafe. From “It will wrinkle my dress” to “It’s a violation of my rights,” here are some of the explanations that cops have gotten for not “clicking it.”
|“Click It or Ticket” campaigns across the country are aimed at encouraging motorists to wear seat belts.|
‘Cops don’t wear seat belts’
Richard Weinblatt, former police chief in Randleman, N.C., says that “It will wrinkle my dress” and “I have a shoulder injury” are among the no-seat-belt excuses he’s heard. But one in particular stands out.
“The worst one was, ‘Well, cops don’t wear seat belts, so why should I?’ I explained that I always wore a seat belt, and noted I had to unbuckle mine to get out of the car and ask the driver about his,” Weinblatt recalls.
In the clear
While on patrol in New Mexico as a sheriff’s deputy for Santa Fe County, Weinblatt was fed a rather cringe-worthy excuse: A woman told him she didn’t wear a seat belt because she wanted to be thrown clear of the vehicle in case of a rollover.
“I pointed out that I had responded to a number of fatalities, including a few where cars rolled over and onto the person who was partially ejected from the vehicle, and they died,” Weinblatt recalls.
Weinblatt wound up writing her a ticket for not wearing a seat belt.
‘He could die’
Longtime law enforcement officer H.D. Justice, author of “Confessions of a Las Vegas Motorcop,” says one of the most memorable excuses he got came in the form of a doctor’s note.
“One guy I remember in particular didn’t have his seat belt on. He had a doctor’s note that said if he wears a seat belt, he could die. It literally said, ‘Due to his medical condition, if he wore his seat belt, he could die,’” Justice says.
The driver didn’t receive a ticket.
“It seemed ridiculous, because the odds of dying in a serious accident without a seat belt have to be equal to not wearing it at all, so what is the difference?” Justice says. “But a doctor’s note will probably exempt you from a ticket.”
The acne alibi
Weinblatt didn’t exempt a young bodybuilder from getting a ticket. Weinblatt spotted the bodybuilder on the driver’s way home from the gym. The bodybuilder’s seat belt was tucked under his left arm.
“The man said he didn’t like the shoulder strap to rub against his left shoulder because it makes it break out after he works out,” Weinblatt recalls. “The idea of the law directing that the restraint be worn in the manner designed by the manufacturer did not seem to impress him.”
Weinblatt wasn’t impressed with the driver’s reasoning. The bodybuilder was slapped with a ticket.
What if I’m knocked unconscious?
Robert Greene, a former sheriff’s deputy in Montgomery County, Texas, and now a Farmers Insurance agent in Austin, Texas, says the excuses he’s been given range from “It will mess up my clothes” to “It’s a violation of my rights.”
But here’s a real winner from Greene’s time as a deputy: “If I am knocked unconscious, I won’t be able to get the seat belt undone to get out of the vehicle.” Greene adds: “And she was serious.”
Improving your odds
If you’re stopped by a cop and you aren’t wearing your seat belt, law enforcement experts recommend you simply tell the truth. You’re not likely to get any sympathy with the “It will wrinkle my dress” excuse. Weinblatt says that if a driver has a positive attitude, it can make a big difference between driving off without a traffic ticket and heading to traffic court.
Of course, driving or riding in a car without wearing a seat belt can mean heading to the morgue. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration say 53 percent of people killed in car crashes in 2009 were not buckled up.
“If everyone wore a seat belt every time they rode in a car, we would sharply reduce the number of fatal crashes that we expect to happen this year,” says Russ Rader, a spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia have “primary” seat belt laws, which let enforcement officers ticket a driver for not wearing a seat belt, without any other traffic offense taking place. Seventeen states have “secondary” seat belt laws, which allow law enforcement officers to write a ticket for not wearing a seat belt only when another traffic offense has occurred. New Hampshire has neither primary nor secondary seat belt laws for adults.
In 2010, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 15 percent of U.S. drivers weren’t using seat belts.