I write as one of your readers on the subject of compulsory wearing of seat belts in cars. I understand there is to be a Free Vote on this matter in Parliament in due course.
However, should such a proposal become law it will be unique—as far as I am aware— in being designed solely to restrict the freedom of the individual and not to protect society against the exercise of such freedom. It would be equally valid to forbid swimming without a lifebelt or to change a light bulb unclad in rubber boots. I am sure that many who feel as I do will point out the dangers of wearing a belt in an open car or in a thousand other accidents where constraint could mean death. Even the most dedicated seat-belt wearers will admit that it does not guarantee complete immunity from all injury. The actual proportion may be appreciable, but is not large.
Put against this proportion the number of people who will be killed or injured as a result of wearing a belt—and you can be quite certain that there will be many. I imagine those who support such a measure will not be liable to prosecution by those who suffer as a result, but I for one would rather not have such suffering or death on my conscience. As matters stand today, a man can choose to wear a belt or not. If he has an accident and is killed you may say that he chose unwisely. But the decision was his. If this contentious law is passed it will also be unique in that its observance may lead to the grave.
Finally, I would invoke your sympathy for the police who will have to see that such a measure if passed is observed. This will put them in a most uphappy position. Most people support the law and the police who maintain it. But the man or woman who is terrified of being trapped in a burning car and is unable through injury or other factors to undo the belt will look upon the police officer as little short of a licensed murderer. People are not all the same and must not be treated as such—each makes his own heaven and his own hell—the Government must not attempt to take over this.
Colchester B. H. CLINKARD
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