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Sample letter to drivers encouraging safety belt usage

The following was an open letter to Praxair professional drivers originally written by one of their line managers, Ed Corley, in September, 1996. The message is timeless. Since that time, Praxair has enjoyed near 100% seatbelt usage and has not lost another driver due to cab ejection. Ed Corley was a Zone (Region) Manager at the time and is now one of Praxair's Senior HR Managers.


I wanted to write a seatbelt letter that would convince you to wear your seatbelt. My first approach was statistics but I decided you had heard the numbers before. Then I thought, what convinced me to wear mine? I went to a company sponsored family safety outing where the Highway Patrol brought the "Convincer" and the video "Room to Live" to the outing. If you don't know it, the "Convincer" is a sled type device that gives you quite a jolt demonstrating a 5 mph crash. We viewed "Room to Live" and, after hearing the Officer on the tape describe the accidents, especially the story of the mother holding her dead baby, I decided the stories on the video were not going to be my story. My wife and I made it our mission to make sure our children were always belted in the car. We made it a game. We did not start the car until everyone was buckled in. The kids would tell their friends, when we were car-pooling, "Mom and Dad won't start the car until you buckle-up." Using seatbelts became automatic with our children and their friends. Our oldest daughter tells me it feels strange in a car without her belt fastened. She now never drives or rides without a seatbelt. The video, "Room to Live", convinced me that seatbelts could save my children's lives if we were in an accident. I started wearing my seatbelt to set an example for my children and now I don't feel safe without it.

Years later, I'm more convinced than ever that seatbelts can save the lives of both children and adults. I have some real stories to prove my point:

A Praxair driver recently told me he believes seatbelts saved the lives of his family. Five members of his family were traveling on a two-lane road during a storm. Somehow the driver lost control of the van and it went down an embankment. The van rolled three times before coming to a stop. All five passengers were using seatbelts and escaped serious injury. The Praxair driver is convinced that seatbelts saved his family's lives.

A few weeks ago, on the evening news, there was a live broadcast from the Golden Gate Bridge. The reporter stated there had been a collision on the bridge caused by someone having an apparent heart attack, crossing the center divider, and striking another car head-on. The camera panned the area, showing both cars to be a total loss. The scene went back to the reporter, who had been interviewing a man and a woman who were the driver and passenger in the car that had been hit. Although visibly shaken, they were standing and talking to the reporter. The camera zoomed in on a large bruise on the woman's shoulder as she described the action of the seatbelt and the force of the impact. She was convinced the seatbelts saved their lives.

A local paper reported Sunday that a 19 year old was killed when he was ejected from a car his friend was driving. On Saturday night, the driver apparently lost control of the car, crossed a ditch, and stopped in a neighbor's yard. The paper stated the boy would have been starting college the next week and was not wearing a seatbelt before he was killed.

A Praxair professional driver was killed when the truck he was driving left the road and overturned. He was not wearing his seatbelt! Another Praxair driver was thrown through the windshield when the truck he was driving left the road. He was seriously injured. He was also not wearing his seatbelt!!

A few years ago, the first legislation requiring seatbelts was enacted. I heard someone protesting the mandatory seatbelt laws saying the law was a violation of his individual rights. Being a liberal-minded thinker in those days, my first impression was to agree. Then, the more I thought about it and examined my feelings about the law, I realized how sad it was that legislation is needed to protect us from ourselves. Think about it! The mandatory seatbelt laws and Praxair policies requiring the wearing of seatbelts are all about protecting us and saving lives.

What is your excuse for not wearing your seatbelt I hope your answer is: "I don't have an excuse. I wear it all the time." If you don't wear your seatbelt, is it really the smart thing to do Could you live with yourself if your child or grandchild were killed in a car accident when not wearing a seatbelt because of the example you set? I dont think so. If you are in a serious accident, I hope we don't have to say: "If only he/she had used his/her seatbelt".


Ed Corley
Zone Manager
Praxair, Inc.
September 13, 1996

Last updated: Thursday, March 20, 2014