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21 November 2012

from Steve Johnson – guest blogger.

There was a tragedy in the waters off Auckland recently. Seven large males went out in a small boat. They grossly overloaded the boat’s capacity in those numbers, and they went out without bothering to take lifejackets. As anyone with a grain of commonsense would have expected, the boat overturned, and all seven ended up in the water. Despite prompt action by the coastguard, two of the men drowned. It is now being suggested that in addition to the carrying of a life jacket per person in any boat being compulsory, the law should go further and that the actual wearing of a lifejacket should be compulsory.

There’s two obvious problems with the suggestion. One is that this bunch didn’t bother to obey the law requiring that they have lifejackets with them. So why should they obey any further law saying they not only have to have them, but that they must be worn? The other problem is that what may be really required is a law making it compulsory to use your brain in situations like these. But then  you have to have something to use it!

Maybe we should change the law to read that if you do something incredibly stupid, ignore the law designed to save you from the consequences of that, and get killed or maimed, that you have to pay for the cost of your rescue, and also that all of those with you who survived be changed with “assisting suicide” or some similar criminal charge. If you refuse to get into a boat that is leaving without the required number of life-jackets and without those in the boat wearing them, then at least you should survive. Your example may also persuade them to comply. You will know that you did your best to help your friends, and you’ll live with a lot less guilt if tragedy does strike. And a few people being charged with a crime, in that they failed to stand up and demand their friends obey the law, might encourage others to do likewise. That was done several years ago when a teenage boy was changed with something similar when his friend died in a car accident under preventable circumstamces. Maybe it’s time we extended it to those who go down to the sea in very small boats and no lifejackets – or commonsense.








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