On Jan. 1, 1968, under Title 49 of the United States Code, Chapter 301, Motor Safety Standard, the first national seat belt law took effect requiring all vehicles (except buses) to be fitted with seat belts in all designated seating positions.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) most Americans understand the lifesaving value of the seat belt — the national use rate was 90.7 percent in 2019.

Yet NHTSA’s most recent statistics on auto accidents points out that of the 37,133 people killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2017, 47 percent were not wearing seat belts. Seat belt use in 2017 saved 14,955 lives.

The law went into effect over 50 years ago, we know that seat belts save lives, and there is still almost 10 percent of us driving without wearing one. After 50 years we still need signs on highways “Click It or Ticket.”

Seat belt use has become second nature. Or at least it should be. Settle into your seat, reach over, grab the seat belt, pull it over your lap and click. Voila — mission accomplished.

Michigan has over 7 million licensed drivers and if we mirror the national average that means at any given moment 700,000 people are on our roads without a seat belt to protect them from harm.

Since March of this year we’ve been asked to wear another safety devise. It measures approximately 7 inches by 4 inches. Unlike seat belts this one is right there in your face.

Actually, it’s literally on your face.

Of course, I’m talking about wearing a face mask to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Look, I get it. I find them uncomfortable and my glasses are always fogged up.

But here’s something to consider. At this moment there are more confirmed cases in the U.S. of the virus than there are licensed drivers in Michigan. In addition, we lost 37,133 people to auto accidents in the full year of 2017.

Since March we’ve lost over 200,000 to the coronavirus.

If 90 percent of us believe that seat belts save lives, why is it so hard to believe the same scientific methods and rational behind wearing a mask can, and does, save lives too.

Recently the Michigan Supreme Court struck down Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers executive orders. They deemed them unconstitutional and that the governor overstepped her authority. They may very well been correct in their interpretation of the law, but they certainly missed the boat on the science.

I wonder if the super spreader event that happened on the south lawn of the White House and the President’s subsequent helicopter flight to Walter Reed Hospital to be treated for the Coronavirus had happened a week earlier if the decision would have been different.

Partisan politics overruling science has never made sense to me.

After the ruling the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued new directives mandating the wearing of masks in public. The MDHHS is charged with protecting the health and welfare of Michigan’s citizens and plans on doing just that.

“Health professionals agree with the CDC guidelines that wearing a mask is an important step toward preventing the spread of COVID-19,” Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers stated. “This is a health issue not a political battle and we should all be doing our part to protect one another.

“In Traverse City, we promote and strongly recommend all citizens where masks in public and practice social distancing. It’s just the right thing to do.”

This week starts the annual enrollment period for Medicare. I will be the agent-in-residence at the Traverse City Walmart. I will be there to answer all your questions regarding Medicare for 2021. I will be wearing a mask and using every protocol to protect you and me.

I am asking you for the same courtesy.

I will also be holding meeting at my office downtown utilizing the same procedures.

Please contact me at fred@srbenefitsolutions.com or 231-922-1010 for the times I will be at the Walmart and/or my office for appointments. I’m working hard to learn how to smile with my eyes.

Mask up and stay safe.

Fred L. Goldenberg is a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) and the owner of Senior Benefit Solutions, LLC, a financial services and certified health insurance organization in Traverse City. Questions or comments about this column or interest in our monthly Medicare classes can be directed to (231) 922-1010 or fred@srbenefitsolutions.com.

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