Dear Reader: Please Wear a Seatbelt in the Back of a Taxi
Deaths of Math Genius John F. Nash Jr. and Wife Call Attention to Lethal Problem
The crash that killed mathematician John F. Nash Jr. and his wife, Alicia, highlighted a largely overlooked safety issue in travel: many people do not wear a seatbelt when in the back seat of a car. The Nashes, who were ejected from the back seat of their taxi while returning from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey to their home, were not wearing seatbelts.
While almost all states in the United States as well as many nations around the world require driver and front seat passengers to wear seatbelts, only 28 states require passengers in the rear to wear them as well. The issue is compounded by many viewing a rear seat to be safe, even without a seatbelt, a message underscored by the lack of consistent laws governing seatbelt use.
New Jersey state law requires all passengers to wear seatbelts, while New York City’s seatbelt law, which exempts taxis entirely, only requires front-seat passengers to wear them. The Taxi and Limousine Commission reported that, in 2014, only 62% of passengers surveyed said they wear a seatbelt.
Earlier this year, a bill was introduced in the New York State Assembly and Senate that would require passengers 16 years of age and older to use seatbelts in rear seats, although that bill would exempt taxi passengers. New York City Mayor DiBlasio’s administration is said to be drafting a law requiring all front-seat passengers in taxis and children under 16 to wear a seatbelt in a taxi.
The accident involving the Nashes took place on the NJ Turnpike after the driver of the Taxi, Tarek Girgis, tried to pass another vehicle in the right lane from the left land. Girgis lost control of the vehicle and struck a guardrail in Monroe Township.
Nash’s struggle with schizophrenia became the subject of the 2001 Academy Award-winning biographical film, “A Beautiful Mind.”
The mathematician was not the only celebrity to die in a car accident thanks to not wearing a seatbelt. Legendary CBS newsman Bob Simon was killed in February, when his hired limousine crashed on the West Side Highway. He too was not belted in.
Next time you get into a car or taxi, regardless of where you are seated, please remember to fasten your seatbelt and make sure others traveling with you do the same.
(Photo: Accura Media Group)