So Princess Diana has bought a pair of karts for the two princes and karting is set to become the sport of kings. How delighted I and doubtless scores of others are to see it. But oh dear, why has RoSPA felt the need, once again, to voice its ill-considered opinions?
I seem to remember a few years ago when Prince Charles had the audacity to take one of the boys on his knees to steer his Aston Martin on private and deserted roads that RoSPA squealed loudly about his ‘irresponsible act’. Now once again they are complaining about children being allowed to indulge in minor motoring activities. RoSPA’s spokesman was quoted as saying: “Anything can happen to a child racing go-karts at that speed. All they have to do is to hit the wrong pedal while going round a tight bend and it could be a very dangerous situation.”
What bloody nonsense.
If they knew the first thing about either karting or children they would know that at the relatively modest speeds (50 mph) that these karts reach, they spin to a halt almost within their own length. Furthermore, children of this age are unlikely to “hit the wrong pedal”. Today’s children are raised on computer games and as a result have faster reactions and are manually more dexterous than their parents ever were. Rare is the child that cannot manage to remember which out of two pedals is for stop and go.
My son has just finished his first season of Formula 6 kart racing with the Rochester Motor Club, which has given both he and I an enormous amount of enjoyment. He is, of course, like all the children he competes against, loved dearly by his parents and we, like the other parents who allow their children to race karts, would never expose him to “very dangerous situations”. Like his fellow competitors he wears purpose-designed overalls and gloves, is equipped with an RAC approved helmet and drives a carefully scrutineered machine.
Indeed, we would much rather he raced karts with the correct equipment, on a track designed for the purpose, than risked falling from up to seven feet in the air from a horse at up to 20 mph, or rode his mountain bike flat-out on main roads with nothing more effective than a polystyrene pudding basin on his head. RoSPA would do well to remember that nothing in life is totally safe and a little excitement is a prime requisite in any child’s upbringing. Supervised karting is a great deal safer than many other activities one could mention, including probably climbing trees. But then maybe RoSPA spokesmen don’t allow their children to do that either.
Nik Cookson, Kingston, Surrey.