Friday, 20 January 2012

Personal Safety Ban Logic

Friday night is smoky-drinky-curry night at a friend's gaff, but afore I go ...
"Everybody is aware of the risk of cell phones and texting in automobiles, but I see more and more teens distracted with the latest devices and headphones in their ears," says lead author Richard Lichenstein, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of pediatric emergency medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center. "Unfortunately as we make more and more enticing devices, the risk of injury from distraction and blocking out other sounds increases."
Headphones as a safety hazard. Hmm, interesting.
Researchers reviewed 116 accident cases from 2004 to 2011 in which injured pedestrians were documented to be using headphones. Seventy percent of the 116 accidents resulted in death to the pedestrian. More than two-thirds of victims were male (68 percent) and under the age of 30 (67 percent). More than half of the moving vehicles involved in the accidents were trains (55 percent), and nearly a third (29 percent) of the vehicles reported sounding some type of warning horn prior to the crash.

[...]

"I hope that these results will help to significantly reduce incidence of injuries and lead us to a better understanding of how such injuries occur and how we can prevent them."
Well, we already have a much-vaunted precedent as to how to prevent them, don't we?

Seat belt laws are widely regarded (by politicians, anyway) as being a 100% success despite outlawing personal choice of one's own level of risk. They save lives and - despite what others have claimed - have not merely shifted deaths from those inside the vehicle, to those outside. Nope, not at all.

Cycle helmets are also compulsory in New Zealand and Australia (natch), and there are regular calls for the same policy to be legislated on here. All for your own good, of course. The benevolent state removing your freedoms to save you from yourselves.

So, if it is to be accepted that the state is entitled to pass laws solely for the purpose of restricting our bad choices, then the logical answer to the problem of sensory deprivation by headphones is to instigate spot fines for pedestrians who wear them, surely. Or is that just too obviously illiberal for our omniscient overlords to spin their way out of?

Well, apart from Mayor Bloomberg, of course.


13 comments:

Henry Crun said...

I've seen more and more motorists and lorry drivers barelling down the motorway with earphones plugged into their ears, completely oblivious of their surroundings. As far as I'm concerned that's just as dangerous as yakking on the mobile or texting whilst driving.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Henry: You could be right. In that case, there is potential for others to be harmed.

In the case of cycle helmet laws, the only people being protected are the cyclists themselves. With seat belts, lawmakers go even further, by saying that seat belts are a good ideas because they prevent those inside the car being injured, and actively arguing against - or, more accurately, ignoring entirely - evidence that pedestrians and cyclists are being harmed by way of risk compensation.

Both laws are solely aimed at the individual, irrespective of harm being visited on passers-by.

By that logic, governments must surely soon be rushing to ban headphones for pedestrians. QED.

If not, they're jelly-spined hypocrites. ;)

Anonymous said...

Based on what I have observed, which includes I freely admit observations in which include myself, pedestrians wearing headphones are certainly a potential safety hazard to themselves and by extension liable to be a hazard to others ... in my case, whilst I had assumed the headphones to make my amble somewhat more enjoyable by having some background music, as I was listening to stuff that I had placed on my MP3 player I was, without realsing it, paying far more attention to the music than was sensible, and an accident was narrowly averted because the car that would otherwise have hit me as I strolled zombie/trance like off the pavement and into the road was being driven by someone who was entirely focused on the task of driving it, saw me and hit the brakes in good time. For which I was and am v. grateful.

selsey.steve said...

I was taught to drive (many years ago) by an ex-fighter pilot who'd survived being in that occupation for the whole of WWII.
He hammered home the concept of complete awareness at all times. He'd suddenly mask the instrument panel and ask me the speed at which we were travelling and how much fuel we had. He'd hide the rear-view mirror and ask me the colour of the car following us. He'd suddenly ask me "What was the last mandatory road sign we passed?".
All of my answers had to be given immediately so as not to overly interrupt the running commentary I had to give about what I was doing and what I was seeing.
He taught me to consider EVERY other person on or near the road I was driving along to be a complete imbecile, likely to do something dangerous as I approached. He was not wrong.
His lessons still reverberate in my ears almost fifty years later, and are still obeyed to the letter. I KNOW that the jogger ahead on the footpath is suddenly going to turn across in front of me and that he/she is also completely deaf and blind (!) thus forcing me to drive accordingly.
I take care of myself and sod every-one else on the road.
So far, so good.

Anonymous said...

A counter-argument would be that those who choose to detach themselves from society by wearing ear-phones in public places are volunteering for a Darwinian elimination as being unfit to survive.
And those of us who, by virtue of greater awareness, manage to run down and destroy these amoeba-types are actually doing future human evolution a favour. Let's hope governmnet does not seek to interfere with evolution.

Anonymous said...

Here is how to handle distracted pedestrians, those too busy texting, cell phone talking or iPod listening to know what is going on around them.

When you begin noticing they are subconsciously using you as their seeing eye dog, their lead, across the intersections, then try timing it so you are halfway in the middle when the light abruptly changes, then scurry quickly to the other side, leaving them dazed, amazed and stranded in the center line of the street, wondering in awe how they happened to end up in that situation.

They run quickly and usually stop talking, texting or pull out the earphones, at least enough to realize through a sort of shock therapy, that they've become extremely distracted.

Whether that awareness stays with them, I do not know. But it is one way to train the obtuse to stop behaving so blindly while in public.

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

IIRC the cause of the overwhelming proportion of incidents involving "mechanical conflict" between pedestrians and vehicles are attributable to the pedestrian.

Many places have a jaywalking law...

On the subject of headphones - it's clear to me that it constitutes "without due care and attention" - but hell, that went the way of drunk and disorderly and drunk and incapable.

Years ago when cheap headphone transistor radios appeared - the driver of a 25 ton front bucket coal loader at a cement factory I worked in was so rapt with his high decibel Radio 1 that he reversed straight through a 40 ft high concrete block wall and across a railway line - he was that disorientated.

The laws already exist to punish most errant behaviour and it strikes me that the banstrurbators motives aren't actually pure and rational.

They want all is forbidden unless *they* expressly sanction it - cnuts.

JuliaM said...

I'm confused, surely we WANT idiots who wander into the road while listening to Coldplay removed from the gene pool, don't we?

Twenty_Rothmans said...

Selsey steve

Sounds as though you had a good instructor. So did I - my father - who, despite misgivings about my taking up motorcycling, drummed it into me:
Where's that car? What colour was it?
Where's his blind spot?
What will you do when he changes lane?
What gear are you in?
Where's your escape route?

On a motorcycle, there are literally milliseconds between you and death, or having someone else wipe your bottom for the rest of your life.

When I discuss the stupid mandatory helmet on a bike Nazism with my friends and family back in Australia, they look at me as though I have two cocks when I explain that we don't need no stinking helmets here.

They are that fully indoctrinated that they think that we - and get this, they don't even live here - should have the same rule.

It is pointless to argue with them. All you can do is ridicule them by agreeing, and stating that pedestrians should also wear helmets and hi-viz jackets. Just in case, you see.

If it saves just one life, it will be worth it, right?

WV: pubspig !

Anonymous said...

I was most certainly not listening to Coldplay !

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

JuliaM @0759

Yes indeedy

Lyn said...

JulianM @7.59

Yes, it would definitely help, but it would help even more if we started with the majority of policitians - especially the bansturbator brand!

When people (starting with kids) start to re-learn how to be responsible for themselves then society will much improved as we will most definitely NOT NEED all these stupid bans and ridiculous H&S laws that these days kill more people than they save!

Johnnyrvf said...

The French govt. are bringing in a law from the 01/01/2013 that ALL Motorcycles/Powered Two Wheel Vehicle Riders and passengers of machines greater than 125 cc have to wear a hi viz JACKET or body vest of a minimum of 150 cm sq. between waist and shoulders.......the reason being to enable other road users to see them ' whilst sliding down the road after falling off their machine '. The fact that it is the sub 125 catergory of machines that have by far the greatest number of accidents have been excluded from this legislation give a clue as to the competence of those who have forced it through the French parliament, I shall comply, however no where in the law does it state that a clean garment shall be worn; now all I have to do is imerse my hi-viz into that full 1 thousand litre tank of old dirty engine oil I have in my workshop........