Those like Mr. Lockwood in favour of the law requiting us to wear seat-belts seem wilfully to miss the point. The comparisons he quotes are so specious they might have been handed to him by a politician. Child pornography presumably harms children and coda-fighting harms cocks who can't have thought things out for themselves. Hacil drug users with their addled brains are likely to be a danger to anybody. On the other hand, failing to wear a seat-belt can harm nobody but he who
failed to go It is not against the law to attempt suicide but it will soon be illegal to risk accidentally hurting oneself by not belting up. Is there an argument that by not snapping myself ml might occupy a hospital bed that might otherwise he used by somebody else? Well, I will take my busted face out of hospital if all those smokers will get out of their cancer beds and come with me. (Why don't our caring politicians make smoking illegal?) I agree with Mr. Lockwood that there seems no benefit here to seat-belt manufacturers and one may wonder what is in it the the politicians. It is difficult to see where their percentage comes in. But look back over previous MPs concerned with transport and it is apparent that they see— to be kind to them — less gifted than their ministerial colleagues. Their job seems to have been to produce some son of side-show to divert attention from the real action. So it is possible that someone is now getting close to finding one of them fumbling his chum or with his hand in the till. However, in this case I suspect they are sincere. and this worries me. (The fear of the unthlown. Perhaps./
They really believe in Big Brother knowing what is best for us. And we will not have to wait for 1984 before we get it! Hoylake RAYMOND M. CROSS
thank Mr. Cross for coming to my defence in the vexed matter of seat-belt compulsion. But it looks as if we are fighting a losing battle here against bureaucracy, just as the motorcycle fraternity did in the case of compulsory helmet-wearing; they were, of course, in a minority compared to the total number of vehicle-users. When it has become a criminal offence — criminal, note! — to drive a motor-vehicle unless one is strapped to it, some very important aspects, seriously affecting the liberty of the citizen, will luve been ignored by the Government, which, by this Act, is distorting traditional criminal law. Vehicle-users will be forced by criminal sanction to put themselves in a position where death can result. The, are being forced, in effect, not to hurt themselves, again by criminal sanction, which is contrary to every concept of criminal law and the liberty of the citizen. It is not a criminal offence to trespass. someone else's home (or in Buckingham Palace for that matter!) but not to wear a seat-belt in a car will be! All right, seat-harness may save fives and injuries and the wearing of it be disliked by only a minority. But if it is an vital to enforce this apparent safeguard, why are smoking and alcoholism not made a criminal offence likewise? That would save more sad bereavements, release more hospital beds, save more nurses' and
doctors' um, than reducing the effect of road-accidents. Why, then, is it only the vehicle-user who is singled out and subjected to this sort of new legislation? If it is thought to important that we all (or most of us anyway, for there are some odd exemptions), use seat-belts, why arc infants allowed to ride on bicycle pillion-seats, no head-gear required, from which a fall could so easily be fatal? To quote but one absurdity. There are so many other dangerous things we are permitted to do, without becoming criminals, that one would not have expected a law to be enacted over conduct that is genuinely pursued by persons who consider that such conduct (i.e., not belting-up) may save his or her life! The times when the supposed risk becomes reality may be few, but the British Medical jounsal has confirmed that 2 per cent of deaths they , investigated were caused by seat-belts.
When this unhappy Bill was first mooted, the President of the National Association of Approved Driving Instructors who presumably knows something about motoring stated a rho House that he was against belting-up compulsion because it will abuse the British criminal law and British criminal process. He said he was all in favour of encouraging people souse seat-belts by other means, as ute are. The Government has been warned of the problems of enforcement, which means that the Act will overload the Courts. waste Police time, and cost the country money, because, unlike crash-helmets. belts cannot be easily seen, especially after dark, and can be quickly fastened by anyone apprehended for not being seemingly attached to his or her vehicle. Bully for the lawyers! Bad for the country, and its vehicle-drivers.
There is also the savage idea of allowing doctors to charge a fee of £19.00 for a consultation with anyone who has good reasons for hoping (what a forlorn hope!) of being exempted from this belting-up. Although a sufferer from claustrophobia, I shall try on January, 31st. 1983 to comply with the new law, but I may find that I cannot tolerate driving under the new restraints. If that is the case, driving, after 50 enjoyable years, will be over for me. However, I am hopeful that if I carry a sharp enough knife in a car. for use if a belt refuses to release, I may get by . . . hut even so, motoring will never be quite the same again. All due to pressure by "do-gooderson a Government that normally stands firm (Health Service pay rises) but hasn't where the nation's motor-vehicle owners are involved. — Ed.]