For the week ending 24 June 2006 / 28 Sivan 5766

Belting the Passenger

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Question: I enjoy doing the kindness of giving someone a ride in my car and the passenger usually sits in the back seat. As one who is very careful to always wear a seat belt while driving, I insist on my passengers doing the same even if they are sitting in the back, as is required by law where I live. Since too many people in my community view this as an unnecessary caution, my passengers are often put off by my request. What is the right thing to do?

Answer: You have every right to insist on your passenger’s wearing his seat belt even if it makes him a bit uncomfortable. If he expresses dissatisfaction you should explain to him that as his driver you have a responsibility to guarantee his safety as much as possible. Short stops and collisions can happen to anyone, and the seat belt offers a better chance for survival. The law requiring the wearing of seat belts is based on serious research proving that it helps the victims of accidents and deserves to be respected.

In an area where police actually enforce this law, you have a much easier time in convincing your reluctant passenger to save both him and yourself from paying the penalty for his lack of caution.

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