When we were in Spain a few years ago, we started to realise what a risk-averse society Australia had become. It became a bit of a standing joke on the trip – “that would never be allowed in the Switzerland of the South”.
I forget, not having been overseas for a few years, but remember again, whenever my english neighbours (my suburb is full of english expats out here on a corporate gig for a few years) express polite astonishment at my unwillingness to let my children in their car without a proper car seat.
Australia is full of rules and regulations about safety these days. Car seats, seatbelts, no smoking indoors, playgrounds with softfall everywhere, enforced drink driving laws, signs warning you about cliffs, signs warning you about hot coffee, trains that won’t let the doors open between stations in case you accidentally jump out…
I’m generally in favour of all of them – I like living in a safe country, and I like not having to breathe other people’s smoke – until occasionally I stop myself and wonder how much real difference all the regulation actually makes to the chances of accidents. But then what should the trade off be? If you save one life (say someone who won’t fall off a cliff because the sign stops them) is that worth the annoyance to everyone else at the beautiful mountain retreat who can’t look at the view without a sign?