The Seat Belt Controversy
Like yourself I have for many years opposed compulsory seat belt legislation and not always for the same reasons as yourself. I must however take issue with reader V. P. Geoghegan who is a victim himself of the “generalisation habit” of which he accuses you I have two close relatives and one equally close friend who are alive today only because they were not strapped to their vehicles which were crashed beyond recognition by heavy lorries in two entirely separate incidents. The police evidence and photographs support these claims which I can assure Mr. Geoghegan are very real.
It was this close association with death that convinced me that no-one should be forced to belt up. In fact l211.1 of the firm belief (shared by ma, eminent psychcologists) that if cars were glass fronted so that drivers knew any son of shunt would be dangerous, then accidents would go down drastically overnight. If Mr. Geoghegan studied the motorcycle headgear situation he would have noticed that accidents rose by 31, after the introduction of the headwear bill. It needs little imagination therefore to appreciate that since the ratio of deaths to accidents is fairly proportioned the saving in lives by headgear is almost certain to have been wiped out and the rise in accidents likely to increase. The latest statistics given this week for Sussex bear this out.
What price democracy Mr. Geoghegan? And will your conscience allow you to sit back and watch the Yorkshire Ripper languish his life away (at least he’s still alive) and yet permit hundreds di innocent people to be killed by wearing belts against their wish and better judgement?
Let’s face it Mr. Geoghegan, no matter how much of a cynic you or I may be we cannot escape the fact that people do get drowned or have their necks broken by seat belts and that no matter how few they may be, we have no right to condemn them to death simply for a belief. As for the alleged saving in lives? Largely a myth, but I would not discount the injury statistics, I would simply say that there arc much easier and more politically and humanly acceptable ways of achieving the same results but less painfully and dramatically. Horam, Sussex HAROLD E. PARKIN (This correspondence is now closed — Ed]