New York, Ohio and other states have recently added or updated their child passenger safety laws. All but a few states in the USA have relatively strict laws pertaining to the restraint of children in motor vehicles. Many of these are among the strictest in the world, requiring kids to be in a harness or booster until at least 8 years old . At the opposite end of the spectrum, some states like Florida have relatively lax laws, ending at 3 years of age. Some countries have no such laws at all, for kids or adults. In some cultures, it is normal for newborns sit on a nanny’s lap, having only luck or their parent’s faith to protect them. Is it better to rely on the lap of a nanny, or is it better to have our government nanny us all with restrictive laws?
The debate on motorcycle helmets is not entirely different. Both sides toss around statistics that make their case sound compelling. There are other issues, like cost, hassle and fun. Shouldn’t the driver have a choice? If their risk is higher without a helmet, aren’t they the party that should decide if they want to take the risk or not?
There is one difference with child seats. A legal driver of a motorcycle is presumably beyond the age of reason and their choice will not generally affect the well being of anyone else. Kids 8 and under aren’t even to the age of reason and certainly cannot be expected to decide upon matters of life and death for themselves. They require a responsible adult to make these choices for them. But what if the adult isn’t responsible? Perhaps they don’t know any better, perhaps they don’t care. Skeptics may simply hate goverment interference and seek out any isolated statistic showing that kids don’t need child restraints, allowing them to rationalize behavior contrary to accepted safest practice.
Whatever the reason, is it just OK to say that Darwin’s theory will tend to rid the gene pool of those who choose not to adequately protect themselves or their offspring? We have a lot of superfluous laws in the USA and its states. Is this just another one that wastes the time of law enforcement and the money of its citizens? Or is it one saving the lives of many children and also saving huge sums of money in medical and funeral expenses?