Defined for You By Someone Else
One of the
problems with safety laws is they amount to someone
elses cost-benefit analysis. Someone elses favoring
of more this vs. less of that. Someone else determination
that the Pros outweigh the Cons as they define them.
A good case
in point: motorcycle helmet laws.
argument is they reduce head trauma in the event the biker goes
down which is certainly true. This cant be argued.
But there is another side of the coin to consider: Not wearing
a helmet may make the biker less likely to go down in the first
place and its just as certainly true.
rider can hear what is going on around him. The external
world is not muffled by the helmet. This is an inherent safety advantage.
For example, the rider will hear a snarling, barking dog about to
try to bite his ankle much sooner than he would with a helmet on.
Thus, he will be less surprised by said snarling dog and
so, less likely to be startled, lose his balance and wreck.
Just one example. There are many others.
If you dont
ride yourself and doubt that not being able to hear clearly is an
issue, try driving your car around with ear plugs in sometime
which by the way is illegal, precisely because it is so unsafe.
But apparently, its ok to put a bikers life in jeopardy
this way, because of the determination by some other person that
wearing a helmet is more safe.
Even more of
an advantage is the much wider field of vision that a rider without
a helmet enjoys. With a full-face helmet on, the riders peripheral
vision is significantly limited. You dont see much to the
side unless you turn your head to the side (which means youre
not able to look ahead of you while youre doing it).
But most of the things that result in a rider being killed involve
things coming at the motorcycle rider from the side such
as someone in a car running a red light or a car turning into his
lane because the bike is in the car drivers blind spot (or
the driver of the car is just oblivious). That extra fraction of
a seconds awareness can be the difference between going down
and not going down and between life or death.
The point being,
its not one-size-fits-all. Almost any safety device
involves compromising something in return for the (supposed) enhancement
or exposing you to some other risk that didnt
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columnist and author of Automotive
Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2012 Eric Peters
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