Following your leader “Compulsion” in the September issue I would like to make a few points about the restrictions we must apply to ourselves in order to maintain a free society.
You are correct to point out that seat belts can, under certain circumstances, be hamiful but I think there is little doubt that they save many more lives than they endanger. I cantor that a non-wearer, forced to use a seat belt, may well feel restricted — just as wearers feel insecure without them. The excuse that they hinder movement does not, to my mind at least, hold very strong — I haven’t noticed Gilles Villeneuve suffering too much as a result of scat belt use recently!
Nevertheless, as a wearer, I still have doubts of the necessity for compulsion but I would like to point out that it is not a simple case of infringement of liberty. The law exists in order to maximize the liberty of the population and, as such, the freedom of any individual must be restricted in order to give the greatest amount of freedom to all. In reference to scat belt use, this means that if you have a crash and are injured as a result of non-use you are infringing on other people’s freedom by using up valuable NHS money — money that could be keeping someone alive on a kidney-machine.
I do not, however, think your reference to pedal cyclists in the same context, i.e., they ought to be stopped because they can be injured, is quite so relevant — after all, stopping cyclists deprives many people of their method of transport, and I do not believe the compulsory use of seat belts is comparable.
Stone, Staffs G. P. VAN HOFF
[I didn’t say that movements were hindered by seat-belts, but that if you are claustrophobic the thought of the release catch jamming is intolerable. — Ed.)