“Sorry George.”

By David Love

Health and Safety policies now affect all aspects of our lives and are very contentious. What makes perfect sense to one person can seem senseless to another. Rallying is receiving a lot of Health and Safety attention at the moment; some would say an excess of attention. Not all policies being implemented are interpreted the same, instructions given on the Scottish Rally stated that no spectators were allowed to enter the stage through the Start or Finish at all. Yet on a previous rally the MSA Safety Delegate said no one to enter after he had passed. The Delegate’s comment made sense to me as within 10 minutes of his passing the first fast car should be on the stage but stopping a seasoned enthusiast 30 minutes before cars are due is overkill. I know we are in a transitional period but the MSA should be producing a clear and concise guide for organisers so that there is a constant standard for all rallies and enthusiasts will not be confused by different rules at each rally.

One new safety regulation is quite clear and that is the mandatory use of F.I.A. approved Frontal Head Restraints from 1st January 2016. I know a lot of competitors will not be happy about this ruling, mainly due to the extra cost, but it is a proven device that can help avoid serious injury. In America, NASCAR made HANS devices compulsory after the death of 7 times Champion Dale Earnhardt when, after extensive investigation, it was concluded that wearing it could have prevented the brain damage that killed him. He had refused to wear a HANS device. Which brings me to George’s comment in the Chairman’s Thoughts in last month’s newsletter. He considers that it should be left to the competitor to decide whether to use them or not, this is when I have to say sorry George I disagree. Most competitors compete to win, whether it is for overall, class or just personal victory, to do that they feel that they need the fastest, best handling car their money can buy. An FRH will not make the car go faster or make them a better driver and as they don’t intend to crash, it is very low on the list of priorities. That’s very understandable as it is very expensive to compete but a brain injury carries a high cost also, not in monetary terms but the emotional cost suffered by their loved ones and family.

I say to competitors, is it not worth a few hundred pounds to safeguard your future and your family’s emotional security?