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September 2011 4xForward - Editorial

Posted in Features on September 1, 2011
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Much has been bandied back and forth in this magazine regarding safety—or lack thereof—in our photos and technical articles. Many pros and cons have come up, and by far the most common view is that you are responsible for yourself and no one else. While I believe in personal responsibility, I still look at the other side of the coin and realize that there are problems with a person attempting to be an island in the sea of humanity.

Reader Chris Greenhalgh from Baltimore, Ohio, put it forth very well: “While it may be true that you would have nobody to blame but yourself if you are killed by your own safety ignorance, the problem is that most are not killed, but rather injured, sometimes severely. So as you sit in an ICU because you didn’t wear your seatbelt and your head went halfway through the windshield, who do you think pays for that $4,000-a-day room? We do. Whether through increased medical costs or insurance increases, we pay for that ignorance. So when one says safety is a personal choice, it actually is not, as it affects others—right in our wallets, no less.”

On the other hand, where does the line need to be drawn? Do we insulate ourselves in a bubble that no force of nature, God, or the Devil himself can get through? There are certain universally accepted safety measures that we should always observe, such as don’t look at the sun (or a welding arc) or wander onto the freeway (or onto a trail where a rig may roll over on you).

You teach your pets, so why not teach your children? Is it the responsibility of parents to train children so they grow up and don’t make the same mistakes? Or is it this magazine’s job to take over where parents—or lack thereof—have failed in educating children?

We have certain safety rules we adhere to in the magazine, and that makes a difference in whether or not we can use your photos. One rule is of course to wheel in an environmentally sound manner. That doesn’t mean you can’t run over a blade of grass in your own field, but winching up the side of a mountain that isn’t yours is frowned upon. Also, the use of alcohol while driving or the lack of seatbelts while moving will almost certainly keep us from using your photo. In particular, holding onto the outside of a rollbar or a vehicle is a big no-no. But welding in shorts or sandals? What if I have a medical condition or religious view that prohibits me from wearing anything else? In this case it’s hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil. We’ll draw the line somewhere.

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