This is a very sad story.
A teenager on her way to collect her GCSE results was killed after she was knocked down by a council refuse lorry without a reverse warning alarm, an inquest heard today.
Esther Bush, 16, died after walking behind the 7.5-ton flat bed truck and into the driver’s blindspot as he was reversing.
Without wishing to add to anyone's grief, it did occur to me to wonder if the reversing alarm had caused the girl's tragic death. Not the alarm which was not fitted to the lorry in question, but the millions that are fitted to others. We get so used to hearing that annoying bleep-bleep-bleep whenever a large vehicle is manoeuvering, that the two become linked in our minds. Could Esther have been thinking "that lorry isn't bleeping, so it's safe to walk behind it"? Equally, could the driver have been thinking "lorries have reversing bleepers, so no-one will be walking behind me"? He might have been wrong in this case, but it's not a hard mistake to make.
Sometimes, 'safety' features can have the opposite of the desired effect. Seat-belts in cars, for example - they reduce injuries to car occupants, but transfer the carnage to pedestrians and cyclists as drivers compensate for the additional feeling of safety they now have.
The world would be a safer place, and accidents like this one less likely, if people had to think things through, instead of relying on 'safety' equipment that is often anything but. If Esther had had to check and see if it was safe to walk where she did, would she have decided differently? We'll never know, but I have a concern that future generations are not learning to assess risks and act on their assessment. They grow up learning that things have warning signals, or barrier fences, or blunt edges, or safety cut-outs, and that nothing is ever dangerous - and if you get hurt, it's always someone else's fault.