Getting kids to sit idly in bubble wrap saves lives

If you want to justify why a behaviour should be legislated, regulated or taxed out of existence the standard mantra is to say people are “at risk”. It is doubly effective if it’s about kids.

Today we have two examples of how those in power want to teach people to avoid risk, rather than learn to manage it.

Victoria’s top traffic cop wants to extend probationary licenses to age 25:

With statistics to back him up, Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill told Fairfax Media that such a drastic move would help cut the state’s road toll.

It would mean young adults would have to drive with a zero blood alcohol level for an extra three years, or for the first seven years of solo driving.

Mr Hill said 40 per cent of people aged 20 to 25 who were killed or injured on Victorian roads every year were victims of drink-driving.

It’s an interesting argument. Apparently people who abuse the 0.5 legal limit, would adhere to a strong zero limit. At least the cop is prepared to discuss the proposal:

“What I’m advocating is a community discussion about considering extending the graduated licensing system to 25 in order to save the lives of our young people,” Mr Hill said.

It’s very different from banning quad bikes which is apparently a “no brainer”. According to a News Limited editorial:

STOPPING children under the age of 16 from riding quad bikes will save lives.

The solution to the alarming number of children who have died or been seriously injured in accidents over the past decade is that simple.

Except it isn’t. First, it assumes that if kids are banned from riding quad bikes they’ll adhere to the ban. Second, it assumes that kids seeking a thrill won’t look for alternatives. Third, kids already have numerous risky behaviours that can deliver the same outcome, heard of bicycle riding anyone? Fourth, it ignores the general trend being faced in society that rather than being too active, kids are being too sedentary.

Actually, according to the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety:

Bicycles are the most common consumer product causing injury in children.

We should call bicycles what they are – death traps – that put kids “at risk”. Note the sarcasm.

Instead of banning activities we should be encouraging a society where people learn to manage risk, not avoid it. Both proposals are “no brainers” to be destined for the rubbish bin.

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