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If safety’s not first, at least have it on the list

Those Facebook posts get me, the ones that say something like: “Like and share this post if you rode in the back of a pickup truck as a kid and survived.” If I didn’t survive, I couldn’t “like and share.”

If I comment on those posts (and I usually don’t), I’ll say I can’t share it because I rode in the back of a pickup, but didn’t survive. Sorry, can’t share.

I saw a firefighter’s post the other day that said, “Safety first. Just kidding! Coffee first, then safety.” And we know that the only way to make coffee safely is for someone who’s already had their coffee to make it for you.

Speaking of pickups, firefighters and safety, my wife and I were sitting in our vehicle on Highway 51 earlier this week as firefighters and EMTs attended to a motor vehicle accident in the intersection of 51 and Brookway Boulevard, and police officers tried to get motorists to understand when they could and could not proceed through said intersection.

When I lived in New Orleans, the common term for people who backed up traffic and caused other difficulties for motorists attempting to pass wrecks was “rubber neckers.” They’d slow down so much — or even stop — to gawk at fender benders that they’d often cause other, more serious accidents.

Brookhaven was certainly no stranger to rubber neckers during this event. The driver of an SUV in front of me in the turn lane sat there watching the hub-bub while several of us passed her and went on about our business. As we came back through a little later, we waited as tow trucks moved the vehicles involved from the traffic lanes.

A woman turned from Highway 51 toward Brookway and yelled to someone else through her open window, “Y’all be careful, and wear your seat belts” — as her vehicle sat motionless in the one lane of traffic that was supposed to be moving (but wasn’t because of her) — and then pulled away with her cell phone in her right hand and waving to someone with her left.

Yep. Y’all be careful.

Yes, I rode in the back of pickup trucks as a kid. I even rode in a chair, on top of mattresses, standing up holding stuff, you name it.

I have ridden many miles at high speed with no seat belt as way too many of us piled into my mile-and-a-half-long station wagon in college. People made fun of my giant mode of transportation, until they all needed a ride somewhere. We could have the front bumper at the pizza parlor while the back bumper was still on campus. So I’m exaggerating, but it was a large car.

I’ve been involved in more wrecks than I care to remember, more than one of which have left me with scars and/or permanent aches and pains. I obviously have survived them all.

But ignoring safety rules, suggestions or common sense is foolishness.

I have a friend who’s been in a wheelchair since she was 16 because when she had a wreck on her way home from work she slipped out of her seat belt. She was wearing it, but it didn’t hold her in the vehicle.

I had a friend who chose not to wear her seat belt because she “wasn’t going far” and also did not remain in her vehicle when she was struck by another one. That was 27 years ago. She didn’t make it to 21.

Safety mechanisms and precautions don’t always keep us from getting harmed. But ignoring them and surviving “unscathed” is no reason to believe safety is unnecessary.

Please grow some common sense and apply it before leaving home. Stopping in the middle of traffic to call a friend or take a photo or whatever is foolish. Using one hand for your phone, one to wave, a foot to apply makeup and looking anywhere other than where you should is not a good recipe for safely arriving wherever you intended to go.

I don’t have to tell you about the man who was so impatient to be the first person in line when the doors opened at the lumber store where I worked that he sped his truck to the entrance, lost control and rammed a concrete column. Or the co-worker who thought there was no way he could hurt someone with a “safety knife” by jabbing them in the arm. I’ll just let the scars on my upper arm answer that one.

Brett Campbell can be reached at brett.campbell@dailyleader.com or 601-265-5307.