The paradox of prevention

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 02 November 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1104

“Sentimentality is the worst of all motives in the making of social policy.” So began one of dozens of vicious attacks recently launched against the New South Wales government when it amended the law to make it illegal for taxis to carry babies unless they are secured in a car seat.

The restraints have been mandatory in private cars for over a decade. In 1993, 19 unrestrained children were involved in car crashes; five died. Among 228 restrained children only one died.

All week, radio programmes and newspapers threw their lines and letters pages over to angry parents who regaled “government stupidity” with real and predicted stories of taxis refusing to carry babies, consequent long walks with crying, sick children, and the government being out of touch with the needs …

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