Safety is an important consideration everywhere, whether crossing the street, walking with sharp utensils, and even washing your hands.

However, up here in Iqaluit certain cautions are thrown to the wind. For example: seatbelts? No way. Who uses those anymore? I didn’t want to wear one anymore after I got my thumb stuck in the hole of the buckle when I was 5 years old, that’s for sure. But in my adult life, especially after having been in an accident where a vehicle was flipped, they sure become important.

But certainly not to people driving in Iqaluit. I feel like a fool when jumping into a vehicle and instinctively reaching for the buckle while the driver laughs and comments on how I’m clearly from out of town, since No One wheres seat belts. Other issues of safety and caution that are missing are locking doors. Car doors are rarely locked, unless items of great value are left inside. I’ve also seen a surprising number of vehicles missing door handles. Also…many vehicles that are damaged altogether.

I’ve only ridden in a taxi twice since I’ve been here, but I’ve been in about 5 different vehicles (some official business vehicles too), and the local conventions still apply. For those driving, the speed limits are posted (usually around 40), traveling at least 20 km above the limit is the norm.

I’ve even talked to some youth here, and in ONE sitting with 3 different kids in casual conversation, all of them had been hit by a vehicle in their lifetime (13-17 years). Unreal.