July 23rd, 2011

A case for making seat belts illegal.

My city's visionary leaders would not know the term "urban consolidation" from "faecal compaction". The hospital, the sports center, the shopping centers, are spread across an area roughly the size of Belgium. And so people drive.

Humanity had an opportunity in the 1950s, to deal with the growing road toll, not by inventing seat belts, but by slowing cars to the natural speed of horse drawn transportation, or bicycles. But seat belts were superficially ethical, sufficiently so to stifle Socratic voices who may have seen the folly in spreading out, driving faster, killing anything in our paths, emitting CO2, using the Earth's stored energy reserves by the year 2100, and all this with a sense of moral impunity, because after-all, we have made seat belts mandatory. And seat belts seem like a vaguely caring idea.

However, due to something called risk elasticity, you can give someone a car that is 10% safer, and they will drive with 20% more abandon. Give them airbags, side impact barriers, ABS, ESP and all the mod cons, and they will drive in the manner owners of Volvos have been well know. This nonsense must stop.

I'm on this hobby horse today, because of the outrage many are expressing about Chinese cars, like The Great Wall, that have very low safety standards. As a society we have been brain-washed into looking at people who buy unsafe cars, as irresponsible. Actually, their ethics are more easily defended.

My time to blog and flesh out arguments is quite fine today. I'm thankful at least to have readers of sufficient intellect, to fill in the blanks for themselves. You will come to the conclusion that seat belts need to be outlawed, as a first (if somewhat bloody) step toward non-sprawling, sustainable, and ethical urban development. 

Cordially yours

Dr. Behooving.