Our share taxi driver saw a police car parked by the side of highway. He, and the passenger in the front seat both reached for their seat belts. They didn’t click them on. They just held them in place until the car had passed the cop. Then they let them go and they whizzed back into their holders. We were in the back seat. We couldn’t have been using seat belts if we’d wanted, there weren’t any.
We’ve now traveled to ten countries this year and none of them has the kind of “make it click” culture we grew up with in New Zealand where putting on a seat belt is an automatic reaction when you get into a car.
Lots of places there are no seat belts. Reaching over our shoulders to find no belt on offer has seriously dulled our reflexive buckling up. Even when there is, if no one else around us is wearing a belt there’s no cultural cue and we often end up, inadvertently, going without.
I’m not sure how New Zealand transitioned from a culture where belts aren’t used to where they almost always are, though I think it happened in my lifetime. But it is something we should celebrate. And other countries should copy. I’m looking at you, Kyrgyzstan.