Motoring needs role models

Lewis Hamilton models the latest fashionable motoring wear

Lewis Hamilton models the latest fashionable motoring wear

The shocking death of 9 year old James Quackenbush has reopened the debate on whether flame-retardant motoring overalls should be compulsory. Stars from the world of motoring should stand up and take a lead on the issue.

James Quackenbush is, of course, just one of several people to have died on Britain’s roads in recent weeks while not wearing a full fireproof motoring bodysuit. Margaret Blanshard we now know died of a cardiac arrest after her Ford Fiesta collided with a lorry on the A90 in Fife; the 72 year old was too old fashioned to update her wardrobe to include a simple set of motorist’s aromatic polyamide fibre coveralls. Meanwhile, charges of causing death by dangerous driving have been dropped against 24 year old Wayne Acocks of Essex after it emerged that the driver of the Skoda Octavia that was hit by the stolen Audi R8 Acocks was driving had not been wearing motoring overalls — the Skoda driver died in hospital from multiple major trauma hours after being airlifted from the scene of the horrific high-speed smash.

But it is the case of James Quackenbush that has renewed the urgency of calls for a change in the law. It is one thing for a grown adult motorist to choose to throw away their life by not taking the simple step of donning a set of motoring overalls, but to allow a child passenger motorist to go without is quite another. AWWTM phoned grieving mother Kate Quackenbush — who left Queen Elizabeth Hospital in a wheelchair this morning — to ask how she felt as the woman responsible for the death of her own son, but the child killer declined to comment. As has been widely reported, the boy was not wearing motoring overalls when he died instantly from serious crushing injuries as the single mother’s 1998 Peugeot 205 was impacted on the passenger side by a construction waste lorry whose over-hours driver had momentarily lost concentration at the busy crossroads.

As a motorist myself, I can’t see any reason why you would not wear a flame-retardant motoring suit. I can tell you, I was very grateful I was wearing mine when I got into trouble recently. Luckily it only turned out to be a minor prang — a smashed light and a scraped panel — but I dread to think how differently it could have turned out had I not been wearing my lifesaving overalls.

Naysayers point out that most car crashes do not involve a fire, and that those which do are usually of such a severity that a flame-retardant outfit is unlikely to be of much use. To those critics we say: you’re free to make that irrational choice to go and kill yourselves if you like. For now.

And yet still many of the youngsters newly attracted to the pastime are not making the right choice. Until such a time as the law is updated, there is undoubtedly a role here for top stars from the world of motoring to set an example. Fireproof overalls have, of course, been compulsory in the professional sport for many years now. But amateur motorists need leaders to look up to. It was gratifying to hear Lewis Hamilton state his support for a change in the law in a recent press conference, but why isn’t Hamilton doing more to encourage youngsters and to help show that flame-retardant boilersuits are not just cool, they’re an essential part of any motor to school or weekly drive to the supermarket.

Our sporting heroes have a simple duty: to set an example. They must do the right things, and let people copy those right things. And one of those oh so simple little things is wearing full body flame-retardant overalls at all times behind the wheel.

Not hard, is it?

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11 responses to “Motoring needs role models

  1. Quite right too. If it saves just one life it has to be worth it.

    That poor child, with its whole life ahead of it, killed by a selfish, ignorant mother, who should be charged with murder, child neglect and stupidity.

    I wrote to that nice Mr Cameroon two months ago after a friend of mine died when his car was hit by a cement lorry because he wasn’t wearing his driving overalls. I wear mine all the time whenever I’m in a car, as you never know when an accident might happen. I personally know 158 people who have had their lives saved by overalls, which is proof enough for me. I myself was saved from certain death by my overalls, in a collision with a pedestrian who walked out in front of me on the pavement.

    Every day I see irresponsible parents not wearing overalls while they make their children wear them, what kind of message does that send? Even worse, I’ve seen them with children strapped into their kiddie seats without overalls, sheer folly.

    That lovely lady Andy Lea from COAT (Car Overalls Action Trust) said “It has been conclusively proved by independent scientists working for us that Car Overalls prevent 99% of car deaths. I’ve held a blue-eyed blond teenager while he died from third degree burns without their being another mark on his body. Parents have to set an example to their children and If they don’t we’ll pass a law to make them, and my shares in the Acme Car Overall Company will skyrocket.”

    Those people who seem to think that they have some kind of right not to wear something that might save their life, well, they quite obviously don’t value their own life, and are just pushing up the costs of healthcare for the rest of us. As for those people who pretend that some people will be put off driving and do more walking and cycling instead, they are fantasists and can be safely ignored. As if anyone would swap their nice warm car for walking or riding in the rain, just because you’ve got to spend 15 minutes putting on your overalls.

    Make it law now! You know it makes sense.

    Mr I A M Gullible.

  2. Thanks for the well done piece. I’ll add the motoring suit idea to my repertoire for that sort of discussions. When somebody brings up the well known “If it saves just one life it has to be worth it” we call that a “Totschlagargument” which translates roughly to a “beat to death” argument. It immediately kills off any rational discussion on an issue.

  3. I don’t know about overalls, but I don’t understand why the driver and any passengers in a motor vehicle aren’t required to wear motorcycle helmets.

  4. I have recently taken to wearing a neck brace, helmet and overalls. after having previously had installed a roll cage and extinguishers. I hear far too many stories these days to risk driving to the corner shop anyother way. I have been experimenting with filling the car with those polystyrene peanuts they use for packing. Yes it does add a bit of time to getting in and out of the car and the added weight has affected the cars economy a little. I feel it is worth it and you can never be too safe.

    I would urge all motorists to do the same.

  5. “Father’s agony as Motoring son who refused to wear a overall in case he messed up his clothes is left in a coma after collision with van”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2398724/Father-holds-hand-brain-damaged-son-Ryan-Smith-hit-van-cycled-work.html

    “No overall, James? Cracknell minus the body protection that saved his life in car smash”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1379107/No-helmet-James-Cracknell-minus-head-protection-saved-life-cycle-smash.html

    “Bare-bodied (?!) Cameron under-fire as he puts vanity before safety on overall-free drive to work”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/election/article-1264217/General-election-2010-David-Cameron-helmet-free-cycle-work.html

    “Too hot for an overall: Motoring Boris picks comfort over safety”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1025519/Too-hot-helmet-Cycling-Boris-picks-comfort-safety.html

    see even The Mail is on our side

    PS I don’t read The Mail

  6. Pingback: Remember kids... always wear a helmet. (The almighty bikeradar helmet thread) - Page 101 - London Fixed-gear and Single-speed

  7. Andy in Germany

    Says it all really. I think I’ll show this to the next parent who shouts at me for not making my boys wear helmets.

  8. Brilliant. Somebody please shove this under Wiggins’s and Cavendish’s noses!

  9. Since more pedestrians are killed each year why not pass a law requiring them to wear high visibility jackets, helmets, flame retardant overalls while we yell. Walk on the bloody pavement, you don’t pay insurance

  10. This post makes no sense. When i drive my car to and from work every day, i never think of a racing driver as a “role model”. I am doing something completely different, it is not in itself dangerous or extreme. Wearing a suit is not a solution to the real problem; why is the driving infrastructure so poor? Making suits compulsory would only shift responsibility towards drivers and deter people from driving. The Netherlands is one of the safest places to drive and nobody wears a suit there. Where is your logic now?

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