Focusing on Seat Belt SafetyDriving fatalities involving...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 05, 1995

Focusing on Seat Belt Safety

Driving fatalities involving high school students always grab attention.

One reaction felt by many teen-agers is the old "slap in the face," which brings them down from their "it can't happen to me" utopia into a reality where inexperienced student drivers are killed every year. Those left behind mourn lost ones and some try to find an answer to the complex problem of reckless driving, which claims the lives of about 1,000 16-year-olds a year across the nation.

In reading Erik Nelson's Feb. 16 article, I realized Dr. Alfredo Herrera has made a legitimate effort to diminish the problem. His son, Christian Herrera, died from being thrown through the window of his Ford Explorer last December.

Since then, Dr. Herrera has been pushing for change in the state's seat belt law. He has asked Republican Sen. Christopher McCabe to introduce a bill "requiring young drivers' license applicants to take a driver safety course."

In the realm of losing your son to horrible tragedy, Dr. Herrera, I commend you.

Dr. Herrera has experienced much hardship through this tragic incident, yet he is still determined to make sure that reckless driving claims less teen-age victims in the future.

Dr. Herrera is in favor of a bill that "would allow police to stop motorists for failing to obey the seat belt law."

He has good reason to support the bill; Christian was not wearing his seat belt when his truck crashed. Christian, unfortunately, is proof that the seat belt is not there for display; it's there to save your life.

Focusing on the other bill at hand, I feel requiring students to take a driver safety course, in addition to driving school, is a beneficial idea. . . .

Herrera's proposal to improve the seat belt law and his suggestion of increased safety education to beginning drivers can only help to reduce the problem.

I knew Christian while playing on his soccer team throughout middle school, and I really liked him. I was deeply saddened by his tragic death, and I am definitely more conscious of my driving now.

When something disastrous such as Christian's death occurs, measures have to be taken to reduce the risk of it happening again. Dr. Herrera, even in pain, is trying as best he can to reduce this devastating problem.

Neil J. Adler

Ellicott City

Buckle Up

One thing was notably missing from Erik Nelson's article Feb. 16 about "Bereaved Father Pushes Safety Efforts." Does Dr. Alfredo Herrera use a safety belt at all times when his car is moving? Has he always? Within the lifetime of most young drivers, it has been the law in most states. That is the single most effective safety measure a driver can use.

Fastening the seat belt should be as automatic as closing the door and turning on the ignition, and the driver should be responsible for all passengers being belted.

If Mr. Nelson asked this painful and revealing question, the answer was not included in The Sun's story.

Martha H. Winslow

Ellicott City

True Experts

Letters to the editor from Charles Ahalt and other self-proclaimed financial "experts" are as regular as rain and their incorrect conclusions are just as regular.

Mr. Ahalt contends that the Columbia Association inflates its assets and misrepresents its finances. His opinions, however, do not reflect the conclusions of three of the most respected national accounting firms -- Arthur Andersen, Ernst & Young and Peat Marwick & Mitchell. Their conclusions over the years are that CA's financial statements have been and continue to be accurate.

They also do not reflect the conclusion of the bond rating agencies which analyze the Columbia Association's operations and financial results. Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Investors Service have both increased their rating on CA in the last year.

It's almost as if there are two Columbia Associations . . . the one reviewed by self-proclaimed financial "experts" and the one reviewed by professional financial analysts.

The professional analysts are employed by nationally recognized credit rating agencies. They have extensive financial training, years of experience and review thousands of organizations annually. If they weren't accurate, they wouldn't have a job. What do they say?

They say CA is doing very well. One agency rates the Columbia Association A-plus, another A(1) and a third has assigned a rating of Level 1 -- its highest rating.

Here is what the professional analysts at Fitch Investors Service said about CA recently:

* On CA management: "Very accurate budgeting and conservative financial management."

* On CA's operations: "Surplus operations have been characteristic since the mid-1980s, enabling steady deficit reduction and increasing equity contributions in support of capital, as well as providing excess funds to purchase bonds."

* On the reduction of past accumulated deficit: "Full elimination is anticipated by fiscal 2000."

* On CA overall: "CA has been effective in more tightly controlling its operating costs in recent years and since 1987 has evidenced more conservative and accurate budget projections."

Robert R. Krawczak

Columbia

K? The writer is a vice president of the Columbia Association.

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