Where to draw the line



Re: Why are safety standards so low? (PM Mailbag July 29, 2016) – Actually that’s not it at all. Every society has to decide where to draw the line between personal freedom and safety and there is no right or wrong place to put it. It’s purely a matter of opinion. For example if we were to reduce the maximum speed limit from 65mph to 40mph we could doubtless save thousands of lives but to do so would just be too much of an inconvenience for everyone.

Over 100,000 people die from various accidents in this country every year and even if you increased safety standards to the point where everything was prohibitively expensive and life was intolerably restrictive you would still not make much of a dent in that number. So we will always let some people die for personal freedom and affordable prices.

Of course, as societies mature and advance over time that line always tends to move more towards safety and away from personal freedom – and in some cases to the point of oppressiveness. For example when I was a kid here in California it was perfectly acceptable to have kids ride around town in the back of a pickup truck (and still is in some states) but if you did that today people would accuse you of child abuse. And in Thailand even today you can carry an infant around town on the front of your motorbike. This is not being irresponsible on their part though. They have just chosen to put the line in a different place than us. And let’s not forget that the average citizen was very much against the first seat belt laws in this country and in some states you are still not required to wear a motorcycle helmet even today. Like I said every society has to decide where they want to draw the line between personal freedom and safety.