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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Safety Standards Cause Unsafe Cars

--posted by Tony Garcia on 10/25/2012

Ah, the Nanny State. The problem with the Nanny State and all of those who push the expansion of it is that people fail to understand unintended consequences. While solving one problem you create others. They also don't care about freedom at all. They feel it is better that government runs your life and makes all of your decisions because that takes out risk and disparity. Eventually we would look like the humans in Wall-E and never be capable of doing anything on our own. Thanks but no thanks.

Today's version of the Nanny State screwing up our lives come in the name of car safety. You see, in the quest of making the dangerous act of driving risk free and freedom free the Nanny State lovers actually have caused our "safe" cars to become less safe.
The government enacts laws – or issues regulatory fatwas – requiring that new cars comply with various “safety” standards. Ironically, the result of these standards – in terms of vehicle design and otherwise – may just be cars that are less safe to actually drive.

For example, you may have noticed that the beltline (door height) of the typical new car is higher up than was typical in the past. This makes it feel as though you’re sitting lower in the car, as you’re surrounded by a bathtub of steel. (No more resting your arm on the top of the door as you drive with the window rolled down.) Beltlines are higher to meet increasingly stringent side impact standards. But for every action, there is a reaction.


You can’t see as much – and what you do see isn’t seen as clearly.
Ugh. Better side impact air bags because you will need them more since you can't see out your windows as a result. Stupid Nanny State people. Give me the choice of better air bags or visibility when I buy my car.
Another factor impinging negatively on visibility is the growing thickness of the car’s A, B and C pillars (roof crush standards – as well as making room for side-impact air bags) in addition to taller/thicker seat headrests (whiplash). In several new (2013) cars I’ve driven recently, it is very hard to see cross traffic coming at you from either side - making it much more dangerous to enter a busy intersection. Blind spots are larger, too – requiring more situational awareness of drivers – who are not infrequently more aware of their sail fawns than what’s going on around them as they drive.
The number of times I lose pedestrians or bicyclists in the blind spots from the posts is unbelievable. Is that not enough? How about this one.
The government has tacitly admitted there’s a problem – caused by itself – by demanding that all new cars be equipped with closed-circuit TV systems (back-up cameras) for the simple reason that it’s increasingly difficult to see what’s behind you when you’re backing up a new (government-approved) “safety” vehicle. But that Band-Aid causes its own slew of problems, including limited peripheral view and a distorted view relative to what a functioning human eye connected to an operating human brain would otherwise perceive. It is much harder (if not impossible) to see a kid on a bike coming down the sidewalk into the path of the backing-up car – because the camera has a limited field of vision. It can’t “see” the kid until the kid is within its narrow field of vision. By which time, it is already too late. Drivers who rely on the camera rather than their own two eyes may end up having a very tragic morning some day.
I admit those cameras are awesome...except for the lack of peripheral vision which now requires you to keep spinning your head forwards to the camera and backwards and sideways to see what the camera is missing. Too many changing points of focus to be efficient or safe. Doesn't matter to the Nanny State people. The Nanny State people want all of these standards and are too obtuse to look at the impacts. What is worse is that at least these are trading safety for safety (which, again, should be the choice of the consumer and not idiots who tell beaureaucrats what standards they want as consumers).

It is even worse when safety is being traded-off for fuel efficiency. There is not any rational justification for that.
Most new cars no longer carry a full-size spare tire. Not as a result of “safety” mandates – but because of pressure to comply with fuel efficiency mandates. A full-size spare is pretty heavy. A mini-spare is half or less the weight. So, what’s the problem? Driving around on three normal-sized tires and one skinny minny often results in a very evil-handling (and braking) car. Most new cars come with pretty aggressive wheel/tire packages. Seventeen and eighteen inches being pretty much the norm – along with at least 60-something series tires. You hit a roofing nail and one goes down. You put on the mini – which might be literally half or less the width of the normal tire and with a completely different (temporary use only – it says so right there on the sidewall) tread pattern/design. You have to be extra careful – and hope it’s not necessary to brake suddenly or swerve. Because if you do, the car will probably react weirdly. If you’re not ready for it, you might end up in the ditch.

But, your car got one-tenth of an MPG better gas mileage.
Pressure from member of the Church of Global Warming have caused a safety issue. I would rather have the choice of an unsafe car (for me) or a safer car (for me). Instead we are getting limited choices, less safe cars in exchange of solving the mythological Global Warming threat and less safe cars for outside the car in exchange for safety features that will be used more because of less safe cars.

Confused? Me too. Suffice it to say that the Nanny State people are making things worse the more they talk.

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