I will admit I was not always a proponent of seat belt use. Like many I felt it didn't make sense to be strapped into a burning vehicle if an accident occurred.

With the passage of seat belt laws I began using mine but with some protest. Over the years I have read and heard so many stories of people dying in crashes due to the simple fact that they had not used a seat belt.

The loss of one life is tragic but what is an even a greater loss is when an accident claims the life of another. How does a person reconcile living while one or more people in their vehicle died because the driver did not insist that everyone buckle up?

During the holidays a vehicle left the road and ejected the driver and three minor passengers. Fortunately nobody died and I have heard no follow-up as to the condition of the injured.  As recently as this weekend an accident involving an SUV and a school bus killed four. One person in the SUV was buckled up while four others were ejected and killed.

Have we been conditioned by federal safety crash tests and advertising to believe that we will be safe in the event of an accident? I think so people may feel they are safe when wrapped in a shiny cocoon of metal and glass because the crash test dummies told us the car was safe. Unfortunately the crash test dummies don't show what happens to a human being traveling at 70mph as it hits another vehicle head-on, also traveling 70mph.

I guess some people get lulled into a false sense of security by test results and as adults we really have the right to ignore the laws of physics but I cannot understand how an adult will let a child ride in a vehicle unrestrained. As adults we have the freedom to make choices that directly affect our health, like smoking or drinking. But as adults we have the responsibility to safeguard the lives of those who have not matured enough to make those decisions.  By not safeguarding the lives of adults and children riding with us we prove our own immaturity.

It's time we raise the penalty for having unrestrained passengers. How much is the life of a child worth? Is it $25? Is it $100? $1,000 or even $10,000?

If I were driving and an accident claimed the life of a passenger of mine, especially a child I would forfeit all that I own to bring that person back.