7 things that sure make me feel safer – NOT

I think we've crossed the line on safety. The inconvenience to safety ratio has gotten way out of control.  Pretty soon we'll all be wearing body armour to leave the house just in case an acorn is going to fall on us.

1.  Car seats for kids until they are six! You can't tell me those booster seats do much. And reverse facing until they are a year old? What baby wants to stare at the back seat for ever? But I have a friend that bought the additional safety story and now her two year old is still in a reverse facing car seat. Poor girl! Did you have to sit in a car seat when you were little? How many accidents have you been in in your life time? I think the car seat manufactures are responsible for the lobbying that brings us our current set of our car seat laws.

2.  Bike helmets.  I always wear my hockey helmet – I've hit my head hard playing hockey. Same with skiing. But biking around the neighborhood? I can't tell you the last time I fell on my bike much less fell hard enough to hit my head. And I (and most of my friends) have made it to adulthood without wearing helmets when biking.

3.  No pillows or blankets! Did you know that babies (in the US at least) aren't supposed to sleep with pillows, blankets or stuffed animals? Don't you sleep with a blanket? Can you imagine sleeping on top of your bottom sheet with nothing else for a year? I wish I'd never heard about SIDS. I think my baby would have been much happier.

4.  Tuna. Eggs. Milk. To eat or not eat? Eggs are good for you. No, they're bad. No they're good. Or "Pregnant women shouldn't eat any fish." "No, they should have at least three servings a week or their baby will be stupid." Just eat. In moderation.

5. Seatbelts on airplanes. I've used my seatbelt in a car. By "used" I mean it's tightened up and held me in place. But on the airplane? I think they just want to keep us in our seats.

6. Electronics on airplanes. Actually, it really worries me that they think my cell phone might interfere with the aircraft. Because half the time I leave mine on. Are we going to crash some day because of that?

7.  Airport security.  Do you really feel any safer now that nobody can take more than 3 oz of any one liquid on the airplane? Or that their shoes all got xrayed? (FYI, they can take much more than 3oz, they just have to take the time to put it in separate containers.) Personally, I'd rather have the hours this year that I've lost standing in line waiting for my laptop to get scanned. Not to mention getting the airport early. I used to get there just in time to get on my flight. Now I'm there in time to wish chair massages at the airport weren't so expensive. Oh, and to spend money eating expensive sandwiches.

And I could go on and on … what's your favorite safety pet peeve?

73 Replies to “7 things that sure make me feel safer – NOT”

  1. Its not the cost that keeps me from wearing one. I own one. Its the comfort, convenience, ease-of-use and probably a lot what Im used to. I didnt wear one growing up. Im sure that the majority of the reason I dont wear one now.
    I also dont like wearing a helmet because I usually bike to get some where and I dont want to show up all sweaty with my hair sticking to my head. Especially when I used to bike to work.Speaking of helmets, I should say that I love my ski helmet. And not because it saves my head (although it has done that) but because its really warm and comfortable. I actually prefer it to my hat. It does however, cut down on my hearing, and Ive often wondered if the additional safety to my head is worth the loss of safety from not being able to hear skiers behind me.

  2. 1. Well. I’m not from US but non-reversing seats are suppose to adjust smaller person [1] to the belt.
    2. I always thought it is to protect from cars (probably not running fast). My classmate had an accident which resulted ‘only’ in concussion.
    4. Usually ‘golden middle’ + ‘hearing’ the organism is sufficient.
    5. In Europe you don’t have to have your seatbelt fasten (althought it is recommended) all the time – only during start, landing (with some pilots it really helps 🙁 ) and similar situations (for e.g. turbulences).
    7. Security on airports is… well generally is not. I heard different stories – someone smuggle a knive on airoplane – plane was delayed so he crossed security several times, damaged fence next to park so even it was created as local shortcut.
    [1] in terms of height – I’m so sorry if it is somehow political incorrect but I’m not native speaker and I don’t know all aspects of language [BTW. on political correct work in English is rather politically incorrect in my language].

  3. Jeff, the same argument can be made about car-helmets: Precisely because car crashes are rare but dangerous, and precisely because wearing a car helmet is almost no burden, and precisely because they’re so cheap… etc.
    or pedestrian-helmets…
    Judging by the anecdotal evidence in the comments, there are a lot of people out there who are really bad bicyclists, and that’s the real danger. Wearing a helmet does not make you a good bicyclist! The 100% focus on helmets take attention away from the very real issue of bad bicyclists. People who have no concept of traffic safety, and who pose a danger to both themselves and others.

  4. The problems with turbulences are mainly two:
    – completely unexpected airholes: suddenly the plane drop inside one of this and is impossible to anticipate
    – getting asleep: if the plane get into a turbulence storm and you got asleep without the belt… well, you know
    I’m not a security paranoid but I think the airplane safebelt is a very cheap price for avoid a very ridicolous death 😀
    What I really hate are the airport controls… http://twitter.com/olea/status/1901863176

  5. The helmet is an interesting one. My friend was hit by a school bus on his way to school and likely survived because of the helmet and his school bag absorbing the force of the impact (the helmet split in half). So helmets work wonders with relatively small inconvenience.
    Moreover, don’t they say most accidents happen near the home, likely because people become overly complacent. Given this and your frame of mind wrt helmets i would make extra sure i wear a helmet when cycling around the local suburbs. Plus is it really that bigger deal? You make putting on a helmet habit and before long you dont even think about it, its just an automatic thing, like putting on a seatbelt in a car.

  6. I am always fascinated by tech-savvy people who tend to consider themselves somehow more intelligent than the riff-raff and consequently above such mundane everyday issues like car and bicycle safety. Some silly pseudo-intelligent reasoning (the “odds” are against it!) is always sure to enter any discussion on the matter.
    Note that these same people also tend to speak with authority on other subjects they only possess a passing knowledge of, such as economics, health care, and public policy.
    I love the Internet!

  7. That’s exactly what internal flights in the US used to be like prior to 9/11, at least to our European eyes. Couldn’t believe the lack of security when I flew around the US in the 90’s… and ultimately, I guess, neither could the terrorists.

  8. Bike helmets are no different from seat belts and you should wear them whenever you hit the road. No matter how perfect a driver (or biker) you may be, it would be foolish to think no one else will hit you, and since we programmers derive 100% of our income from our brain function, putting a protective bubble around our heads is just common sense.

  9. Have to dispute a couple of those examples with you. I’ve twice had reasonably serious accidents while cycling – once my own fault, once a passing car getting too close. And in both cases, I walked away with nothing more than scratches – and with a helmet cracked completely open. Pretty sure that without those helmets, I wouldn’t be commenting on this post…
    Seatbelts on planes too – true, most of the time, nothing happens. And then on that once unlucky flight where the plane suddenly drops a few hundred metres without warning – well, then you get smacked against the roof and break your neck. Surely wearing a seatbelt isn’t all that great an inconvenience to mitigate the chances?
    Airport security, though, totally agree with you – I’m sitting in one now, in fact. Again, some degree of security is common sense, but the it’s become a circus these days, with all the hoops you have to jump through. Is it too much to ask for to take a few toiletries in a carry-on bag to freshen up while waiting for a connecting flight? Absurd…

  10. +1 on pro-helments, it’s no worse then seat belts on cars
    For cell phones on plans, there are two groups that ban it.
    The FCC bans cell phones from being used in planes because you would be roaming through tens of thousands of towers (and switching constantly between them). The networks can’t handle that, and considering how far you are, I don’t think you’d get anything like decent signal anyways. (insignificant numbers cause some trouble with networks, which is why you usually have to restart your phone if you land, but if everyone tried, we’d likely bring down the towers).
    The FAA bans them because it hasn’t done extensive testing to determine if it interferes with the various planes’ internal communication systems. It is pretty safe bet that it doesn’t, but there is no reason to remove that ban while the FCC maintains their ban.

  11. The car-helmet strawman is absurd because you’re looking at the wrong problem. The problem in a car crash isn’t hitting your head where a helmet would do any good; indeed, modern cars are safety-graded for precisely how well you *don’t* hit your head against anything. (You might consider http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xwYBBpHg1I for a comparison of an old car versus a new car on this point.) Or, more accurately, for how well you hit nothing but the air bag. (The air bag in a car is the proper analog to the helmet on a bike — and yes, I would make the same argument there, with an exception for classic cars that predate air bags.)
    Note also that we mandate air bags in cars (or nearly so, I’m not quite up on the current state of the law). It’s plausible the same might happen for helmets while riding bikes at some point. (I still wouldn’t *agree* with either mandate, to be sure. Both are something you should do because it’s the smart thing to do, but if you really think otherwise that should be your problem if it comes to that.)
    By the way, if you hit your head that doesn’t necessarily imply you’re a bad cyclist. There are a lot of other things out there independent of your control that could make life miserable for you no matter how proficient you are biking safely, as others have noted elsewhere in comments.

  12. Modern helmets are vastly more comfortable, lighter, more promoting of airflow, and so on than even helmets from fifteen years ago.
    I would suggest people are not nearly so shallow as to judge you differently for not having perfect hair as a result of wearing a bike helmet, at least not the vast majority of the time (and those other times you probably wouldn’t want to be riding a bike to start with, if image matters that much in the situation).

  13. Regardless of modern car safety features, the fact remains that there are A LOT of head injuries due to car accidents every year. Injuries that could be prevented through the use of a car helmet.
    In response to your last paragraph: all those “other things out there independent of your control” are there for pedestrians as well. Why are we not discussing pedestrian helmets? What makes bicycles so much more dangerous?
    As for laws, there are bicycle helmet laws in several jurisdictions already. Here in Sweden, the law mandates bicycle helmet use for anyone under the age of fifteen. That law is the only reason I force my children to wear helmets. If they rode their bikes in traffic or were into mountainbiking or other extreme sports it would be a different story.

  14. You say that you haven’t fallen down 1% of the time you have ridden your bike. Have you crashed your car more than 1% of the rides you are on? Do you have car insurance? Ditto for your house, do you have fire insurance? Does your house burn down more than one day out of a hundred?
    The point of most of those things is insurance. You might think the cost is too high, but I’ve had friends who’ve been hit by cars and survived because of a bike helmet, so I think I’ll keep wearing mine.
    As for airport security, it’s a theatre and has long been recognised as one. The problem is that anybody gets rid of silly requirement and then something exploits that (in a way which might, maybe have been stopped by having silly requirement in place), they will be publically flogged. Yes, it’s silly. I think the only way to get rid of it would be to have a public referendum or something like that, so it’s the people rather than a single person making the decision.

  15. I agree with most of your post, except for the “penny-size hole” thing. If what you’re implying is that hole would rip the side of the plane out, that’s a myth. It was put to the test on Mythbusters, and they even did the calculations to prove that the forces are not significant enough to cause major damage to the aircraft or even things flying around the cabin. Reduction of oxygen levels could be an issue but that’s why planes are equipped with oxygen masks.
    Now, I suspect making that hole would “bring the plane down” in the sense that it would probably be forced to make an unscheduled (but not emergency) landing at the nearest airport. Of course if the hole were much bigger in the first place then you’d have a serious problem.

  16. Airplane seatbelts have two main uses I have seen:
    1) Keeping you in your seats due to turbulence and landing
    2) Making it more challenging to get out of your seat
    Between rough landings and in-air turbulence, I have been very happy to have a working seat belt many times. That being said, it seems that the fasten seatbelt requirement is also used to discourage storming the cockpit — standard procedure for opening the cockpit door during flight seems to include turning on the fasten seatbelt sign.

  17. Insurance is very different from helmets. Helmets are supposed to keep you safe – not others.The mandatory insurance on cars it to protect others. If you run into them and hurt them or their cars, insurance helps cover the costs. You arent required to insure your own car (unless the bank still owns it.) Thats a risk you get to take.

  18. Simple: pedestrians who obey the traffic lights and watch out for idiots while doing so aren’t directly “competing” with cars for space. They’re also traveling a whole lot slower, so mistakes generally have smaller potential for harm. (If it’s not a mistake — if the pedestrian gets hit through no fault of his own by something moving that much faster — the presence or absence of the helmet probably matters less than the speed of the other party in the incident, with respect to injury.)
    With respect to laws, I wrote from the same presumptively American perspective as the original post. I haven’t lived in or had reason to be familiar with the laws of other jurisdictions.

  19. I’m going to have to object to the not-wearing-a-helmet while biking. There was a girl in my neighbourhood who recently fell off of her bike and hit her head…hard. She ended up with a concussion, but other than that she was okay. Had she worn her helmet, this probably wouldn’t have happened.
    I almost never wear a helmet, because wearing a helmet can be a kind of nuisance. But I do realize that they do make you safer on the off chance that something does happen…

  20. The irony in replying to Karl on the SIDS issue remarks is not lost on me, but there is a reasonable level of evidence to suggest that prone sleeping – especially in infants who are not generally exposed to prone sleeping, or in combination with pillows – do have a significantly increased risk of death; see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19336376?dopt=Abstract
    Discussing Stormy’s specific cases endlessly seems unnecessary; jamesh makes good points about estimation of risk and I think Karl’s comparison of the rise of the safety culture to the abrogation of personal responsibility is also an interesting one. Does one cause the other?

  21. I agree on the food thing – my sister has been pregnant 5 times, and each time she was given totally different lists of food she could & could not eat.
    Cell phones: I hear that the *real* reason people aren’t allowed to use their cell phones on planes, is because the constant jabbering would annoy other passengers. Really. 🙂

  22. I’m pretty sure it has to do with a child’s body (specifically bone structure) not being nearly as tough as that of an adult.

  23. I agree with all the airport ones absolutely.
    I will say though, there’s been some rough turbulence (esp when the plane dips) where I was glad the seatbelt was on. The electronics ban is absolute nonsense though.

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