This overnight story from northern Israel is nothing short of horrendous and heartbreaking. Eight members of the same family, parents and six of their children killed in a car accident. A seventh child, a seven-year-old girl, survived after she was thrown clear of the car as it rolled down an embankment before bursting into flames.
|The aftermath - the destroyed car and body bags|
I've read the story and some of the pseudo-analysis now on several websites, both in English and Hebrew. The thing that has stuck in my throat the most are the "talkbackists", the nickname given to those who comment on news websites, who have commented on the fact that the one person to have survived this awful tragedy, probably did so because she was not wearing a seat belt. The warped logic that flowed was that in order to save lives, the government, the police and whichever other authorities are involved should mind their own business and let people decide for themselves whether to wear seat belts or not.
It may well be true. It may be that in this one horrendous incident a life was saved by not wearing a seat belt. I don't know, nor do I think it should make a difference. I do know that being thrown from a moving vehicle is just as likely to kill, if not more so.
Twenty or thirty years ago, as the idea of everyone in a vehicle wearing a seat belt was starting to take hold, there were plenty who mocked it. There were cries of government sticking their noses where they weren't wanted, cries of the trampling of freedom of choice, cries that as it was once good enough to drive around without, it should continue to still be allowed.
Times change, technology changes and we must change and adapt with them. Seat belts in the modern car are designed as part of a package of safety features. Crumple zones, airbags, seat belts and a multitude of other features - all work in conjunction to save the lives of the occupants in the case of an accident - and they do work. To claim that this case proves otherwise is nothing short of misleading gobbledygook, or, to avoid putting too fine a point on it, a lie.
This case, whilst tragic, proves nothing. The only facts we have are that eight people have died, adults, youths, children. The vehicle involved was carrying nine passengers, undoubtedly more than it should have been and possibly being a contributory factor to the initial assessment of brake failure and excessive speed for the road. One child survived. Perhaps she wasn't wearing a seat belt. I'd hazard a guess that more than one person in that vehicle was equally unrestrained. As more facts come to light, we may yet find out that she managed to crawl out, rather than being thrown from the car, further disproving the ridiculous arguments.
A case such as this is so rare as to be statistically insignificant in the argument for or against seat belts.
Seat belts save lives. Fact.
More often than not, it's stupidity that kills.