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Re: Air bags (again) (marginal Audi content)

At 07 28 9/24/97 -0400, "Shaun D. Mullen" <smullen@philly.infi.net> wrote:
>The Clinton administration seems determined to give motorists the option
>of switching off air bags.  Many folks, myself included, oppose such an

Ah yes, the "Government Knows Best" argument:  "don't worry your pretty
little head, just do what Big Mamma government says."  What's really
happening here is a dive for political cover after the mandating of passive
restraints by previous administrations.

>but a fatal accident last week in Lakeville, Minn., should add
>fuel to an already contentious and sometimes agonizing debate:  An
>11-year-old (not a small child or infant) was leaning forward to get a
>tissue on the floor of his family's Dodge Grand Caravan minivan when his
>mother, distracted by the three children seated in the back, rear-ended
>a Chevy pickup.  The minivan's front passenger air bag deployed,
>breaking the 11-year-old's neck.

There's no debate here at all.  If the accident was as described, then the
mother displayed incredibly poor judgement by allowing the kids to distract
her.  No mention is made of the use of seatbelts; if the 11 year old wasn't
wearing one, and there was no airbag, the child may very well have been
killed when the child's face hit the windshield.  So the airbag is not the
proximate cause of the fatality; poor judgement is.

>It is my view that very few people are better off without an air bag,

You, sir, are not qualified to make that risk assessment for anyone other
than yourself or your family.  I'd appreciate it if you'd stop encouraging
government bozos to point a gun at my head and decree what safety equipment
I must buy.

I, for one, am less-than-thrilled about having a government-approved,
carcinogen-powered exothermic bomb situated less than two feet from my
face.  The only reason I tolerate such a situation is that, given the
current regulations, the airbag is slightly better than those silly
"mouse-belts" (the motorized seat belts that run on a track).  A far better
restraint system would be a proper 5 point harness.  Of course, that would
involve thinking, but in the "one size fits all" realm of the bureaucrats,
we're all assumed to be brain-damaged idiots, incapable of rational thought.

>but try telling that to the parents of this 11-year-old, whose death can
>now be added to the following NHTSA stats:
>Drivers saved by air bags: 2,191

What does "Drivers saved by air bags" mean?  How do you determine if a
driver would be dead if it weren't for the air bag?  I refer you to the
book _How to Lie with Statistics_ to show the ways numbers like this can be
twisted to substantiate whatever position you'd like.

And where is the category for "Unbelted Drivers saved by air bags, but
killed by their own stupidity in other ways"?

I apologize to the list for my strident tone.  The tone comes from personal
experience -- if I had mindlessly done what some government functionary
told me to do, I'd probably be dead now.  Good judgement while driving (or
living, for that matter) maximizes your time on this planet -- not some
edict from on high.

John Allred