It doesn’t really make sense. The media have been all over the dreadful accident at Alton Towers where four youngsters were seriously injured,
but generally ignore the daily carnage on our roads. On average, 65 are killed or seriously injured every day in the UK.
It is perhaps understandable that the media have concentrated on such a ‘newsworthy’ story, involving the personal tragedy of youngsters on a roller coaster, a generally safe pastime enjoyed by many.
Alton Towers was closed after the accident by the owners Merlin Entertainment, as well as other rides at Chessington and Thorpe Park, but there are no calls for the road network to be closed and motor accidents only normally get national coverage when there is a multi-vehicle pile-up or celebrities are involved.
It seems strange that ‘we’ (the public and authorities) seem to accept some risks, but seemingly go over the top in reducing or eliminating others. The media don’t help; a day or so after the Alton Towers accident, a local TV news report were criticising another theme park for not opening a refurbished ride on time.
Accidents involving aircraft, trains and ships tend to attract more media attention, with frequent calls to ‘ensure it never happens again’ and whilst there are many initiatives to improve road safety, road accidents seem to be an accepted part of life in the same way that smoking and alcohol are still acceptable (although less so nowadays). Similarly in America, the right to carry a gun seems to be sacrosanct, however many shooting atrocities occur.
No doubt much is due to convenience, as most of us have no real alternative to cars or other road transport as we go about our daily lives, but can easily give a theme park ride a miss. There are also enormous business interests. The economy is dependent on the road network and it would take a very brave politician to push the safety angle too far, although you do wonder if this is as much down to the tax revenue from fuel.
These reasons are fine and reasonable, however why do we then go so over the top in an effort to eliminate other risks.
There is a local school where teachers are not allowed to walk in corridors with a hot drink, so they don’t get a tea or coffee in their classrooms throughout the day. This is in case a kid is running (and breaking the rules) bumps into them and gets scalded. The irony is that the kids that are being ‘protected’ are probably the ones that refuse to wear a helmet when cycling to school. PS – just last week a school in Plymouth banned handstands and cartwheels in the playground!
We have to endure the moronic safety announcements at railway stations ‘ it’s raining so it may be slippery’ and why do Tesco checkout staff have to ask everyone if they want help with packing even if it is obvious they are, is this really customer service or a pre-emptive health and safety defence?
Blame can be apportioned in many directions. Parents generally mollycoddle kids, give a bureaucrat a health and safety rule and you risk creating a mini Hitler and insurers don’t help, with traditional events that have been staged for years, cancelled because of lack of realistically priced insurance.
What’s wrong with a bit of cheese rolling and human cannon balls if the participates are willing and accept it is risky. Yes there are bound to be a few accidents, but that’s life. It was pleasing that Wembley recently allowed a chap to ‘free run’ up on to the stadium roof. It is a question of balance, in his case literally.