Traffic School Is Elementary For Six-Year-Old

Filed under: Weird But True

An orange and white striped traffic coneGetting kids to wear seat belts can be tough. One mom was struggling to keep her son belted in -- until a creative judge stepped in to help.

At six years old, kids think they are invincible; specifically, they don't comprehend just how dangerous riding in a car can be. And seat belts can be so gosh-darned confining. So it's understandable that kids may not want to wear them -- and at six, they are perfectly capable of unbuckling them themselves.

Recently a mom in Los Lunas, New Mexico, found herself with a six-year-old son who repeatedly removed his seat belt. Jessica would stop to put it back on, but her son kept unbuckling it. Eventually, Jessica got pulled over and the boy even took the belt off right in front of the police officer. Jessica ended up in front of Judge John "Buddy" Sanchez for failing to restrain her child. So she asked the judge for help.

"She didn't want to plead guilty to it because it was her son that was actually not obeying her," the judge said -- and he agreed.

Judge Sanchez sentenced the boy to traffic school. "I thought he was kidding," said driver's education instructor Avilio Chavez of the Judge's request. "He wanted to send him to defensive-driving class or driver-improvement class." Sanchez and Chavez came up with a simplified solution: Seat belt school. Jessica agreed to the sentence and will be taking her son to the class next month. The class will cover seat belts and other traffic safety issues.

Having the boy appear in front of the judge may have been enough -- the boy's mother says he took off his belt all the time "until Judge Buddy Sanchez talked to him" -- Jessica and her son are still going to take the class. Judge Sanchez says he may sentence other parents -- and their kids -- to the class in the future.

Parents have to figure out what works to convince their kids to be safe. With my kids, it was Pixar's "Toy Story" that did it -- specifically, the scene where Buzz and Woody are lost at the gas station and get in the pizza delivery truck. Woody wants them to get in the back but Buzz refuses, saying "there are no restraining harnesses in the cargo area." He is shown getting in and carefully buckling his seat belt. Woody, meanwhile, climbs in the back and is immediately clobbered by a toolbox. After seeing that, my kids have no problem wearing their seat belts.

What do you think of Judge Sanchez's solution? Is this a creative way of helping parents out, or just one more failure of personal responsibility? And what do you do to keep your kids buckled up?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.