Saturday, 2 February 2013

Seat belts

The Institute of Advanced Motorists is upset that one in five drivers knows somebody who doesn’t use a seatbelt. In America they think being told to wear a seat belt is an infringement of personal liberty and in New Hampshire only 72 per cent of drivers wear them. They had to invent an America-only kind of seat belt that fastened on you automatically when you shut the car door. Here 95 per cent of drivers and front seat occupants wear them. It’s 30 years since they were made mandatory and I can believe the statistics that show how many lives they have saved. Yet I can remember the furore that accompanied the law; it was like the one that made motorcyclists wear crash helmets. There was a gung-ho minority that thought it was effete and safety gear of any sort was counter-intuitive. That is to say if you had too much of it and felt too secure you would take more risks. Well, it hasn’t worked out like that. Maybe there are a few hooligans in their belted-in, air-bagged cocoons who think they are immortal, but who would want to go back to the bad old days? I’m not sure I would welcome the big harnesses I fitted in my first Mark 1 Sprite. It took Nils Bohlin (1920-2002) of Volvo to invent the simple lap and diagonal in 1958 and save a million lives.

What are your views on safety legislation? Have you ever been saved by a seat belt, airbag or roll-hoop?

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