Government misled us about air bagsRecent news...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Government misled us about air bags

Recent news reports have revealed that at least 50 people, including 30 children, have died as a result of automobile air bag releases during slow speed accidents.

I wear seat belts and shoulder harnesses at all times, but I have had a fear since the introduction of air bags that they will place me in jeopardy during a slow speed accident.

The very device that could save my life in a high speed collision would cause me to lose control of my vehicle in a slow speed accident because of the rapidly expanding bag.

I bring this up as another problem that may have been swept under the rug by our federal protectors.

In my opinion, the regulators who decided not to educate the public of the potential problems with the safety device they forced upon us at our cost are guilty of criminal negligence.

If a private company had neglected to inform workers of problems with safety equipment, and 50 workers died as a result of using this equipment during an emergency, the media and public would rightly be demanding an investigation and criminal charges. Why not in this instance?

Alan M. Reasin

Conowingo

Truckers need to obey the rules

I have read your Nov. 21 account of the tragic occurrence on the Bay Bridge which resulted in the death of three people. This was without doubt a tragedy waiting to happen. Unfortunately, it is destined to be repeated unless there is firm action by our authorities to implement serious preventive measures. It is very clear that the cause was a combination of excessive speed and the truck driver following too closely.

Some years ago I served as the insurance representative on the safety committee of a large trucking firm, helping to evaluate accidents and their causes. A large percentage of the accidents reviewed were determined to be the result of one or both of these causes -- excessive speed and following too closely.

I make about two round trips monthly on Route 50 and the Bay Bridge. Many trucks, especially tractor-trailers, speed and tailgate, on the bridge and on the roads. At speeds of 60 to 62 mph (well over the 55 mph limit), one is repeatedly passed by trucks and tailgated if one does not yield to a truck.

A friend was recently ticketed for going 70 mph near the Bay Bridge, and rightly so. I have, however, yet to see a truck stopped for similar and greater speeds. The Maryland State Police announced its intention to issue summonses for tailgating, but I have yet to see that in action.

There is certainly a need for more rigid enforcement on all of our highways, not just the Bay Bridge. The Baltimore Beltway is a prime example of both speeding and tailgating, with cutting in and out thrown in.

Possibly The Sun could help to promote a true highway safety campaign to the benefit of all. In this regard, one has only to observe the drivers whose companies conduct an aggressive safety program to recognize the benefits if all truckers followed their examples.

Frank B. Hall

Baltimore

Will misunderstands partial-birth debate

George Will is grievously wrong on both the law and the facts when he writes that the logic of Roe v. Wade, in regards to partial-birth abortion, accord the fetus the same legal status until birth.

Roe v. Wade provides that once the fetus is viable, the state may "proscribe abortion during that period, except when it is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother." President Clinton vetoed the ban on partial-birth abortions because this procedure would have been outlawed even when the pregnancy posed a serious threat to the mother's health.

As a society, we must address the problems of unplanned pregnancies and children born out of wedlock. Mr. Will's polemic does not contribute to that urgent undertaking.

Samuel I. Rosenberg

Annapolis

The writer represents the 42nd legislative district.

Crime investigation prompts questions

I would like to thank Dan Rodricks publicly for his Nov. 22 column, "Samaritan punished; assailants go free," about my brother Michael Donlan. His telling of this story means a great deal to my brother, my family and myself and has allowed us to begin the process of healing.

Not only was Michael a victim of a brutal and senseless beating, he was also a victim of uncaring and negligent police work. The officer in charge of the investigation was certainly lax in pursuing the case.

He never talked to Michael after the incident. The officer never checked with the hospital after Michael was taken away in an ambulance. The only contact the officer has had with my brother was briefly at the crime scene, moments after Michael regained consciousness. At the time he was unable to give much more information than his name and a repeated, "What happened?" Still there has been no follow-up, and the chance of bringing these vicious criminals to justice seems more remote each day.

The question I have is: Why was such a violent racially motivated attack treated with such indifference by the investigating officer?

Walter A. Donlan II

Baltimore

BSO in no position to play corporate sponsor

I have noticed that PBS's "News Hour with Jim Lehrer" has a new "corporate sponsor" -- the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

What's wrong with this picture? PBS and the BSO are both tax-exempt organizations; they are both subsidized, directly and indirectly, by state and federal tax dollars. They both cry poor tTC and regularly beg for donations from business firms and from private citizens, without whose continuing generosity (they constantly tell us) their very existence would be in serious jeopardy. And yet one of these organizations now sees fit to play the role of benefactor to the other? It's rather like reading that the Salvation Army has become a sponsor of the Red Cross.

A corporation like Mobil Oil, a profit-making entity, can afford to underwrite PBS shows like "Masterpiece Theatre"; by doing so it burnishes its image and performs a useful public service. When a non-profit, money-losing, taxpayer-subsidized entity like the BSO plays the same game by giving away money that it has literally begged from various businesses, taxpayers and publicly funded agencies, something seems terribly wrong.

State legislators, the Maryland State Arts Council and individuals and corporate donors to the BSO should all take note. Judging from this behavior, it would be fair to assume that the orchestra apparently doesn't need your money after all. Heck, it even seems that the orchestra must have money to spare, since it is acting as if it had joined the ranks of those who are fortunate enough to be able to give money away.

Daniel Franko Goldman

Baltimore

Pub Date: 12/03/96

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