Congress Accelerates Out of Control

Understanding that government is not the main source of auto safety improvements

(Page 2 of 2)

What they are inclined to forget is that mandatory vehicle improvements don't come free. Those black boxes, for example, could cost hundreds or thousands of dollars apiece.

New cars have more safety features than older ones, so someone who trades in an old vehicle is likely to increase her life expectancy. Regulations that raise the price of a new car shut some buyers out of the market. So tougher federal rules may have the perverse effect of leading to more traffic fatalities.

If so, don't expect Congress to hold a hearing.


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  • Suki||

    Good morning.

  • -||

    Edited for your palatability:

    Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Hell), who chairs the Committee on Butting Into Your Business, and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Lightful), who mostly mutters and drools, have introduced a bill to make new vehicles even more unaffordable. Waxman attests that "I may be the most important vehicle safety charlatan in a generation."

  • TP||

    "No one ever went broke under-estimating the stupidity of the American Public."
    — H.L. Mencken

  • &||

    That quote isn't even close to being accurate.

  • TP||

    Tongue in cheek.

  • ||

    Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right.

    — H.L. Mencken

  • ed||

    "The other night I underestimated an elephant in my pajamas."

    -H.L. Marx

  • ||

    Is that a pachyderm in your pants....

  • Mike||

    Is there any car that *can't* be stopped by hitting the brakes with the gas pedal on full? Including the Prius? Even when you account for fade from overheating, the cars that have the worse brakes generally aren't too high on power, either. Your brakes are much more powerful than your motor, or they wouldn't work well at all.

    If you've killed your brake pads, obviously they won't work, but that's your problem.

  • TP||

    I don't know about the cars today, but in the "old days" they used to put a cable operated "emergency brake" on the rear brakes in case of a hydraulic leak in the primary braking system. It might not completely stop a car, but it sure as shit would slow it down enough to bail. Especially if the car was RWD.

  • ||

    Today, it's called the parking brake.
    I believe George Carlin had a bit about how he misses the name "emergency brake".

  • ||

    I demand that the government develop a bailout plan to fix the brakes of all vehicles owned by people who can't, or won't, fix their own brakes, for whatever reason.
    Think of the children.

  • Warty||

  • BakedPenguin||

    Or you could just ride a bike.

  • Almanian||

    In Lemmy we trust.

  • JoshInHb||

    Who ya gonna trust on auto safety,

    Henry Waxman or some yellow auto engineer?

  • ||

    I wouldn't trust Waxman to wash my car, much less design it.

  • Almanian||


  • Anomalous||

    Waxman isn't qualified to hang a pair of fuzzy dice.

  • ||

    Who are you going to believe? Henry Waxman or your lying eyes that see millions of well built Toyotas driving all over the world?

    I think part of it two was the campaign against Toyota was such a transparent attempt to aid Government Motors. All car makers have defects and recalls. Toyota's are no worse than any other car maker's and better than most.

  • TP||

    Sure. It's not like cars were actually blowing up when rear ended.

  • ||

    True. And some of the most publicized events, the guy on the freeway in California, turned out to be hoaxes.

  • ||

    Even the Pinto didn't really do that (27 deaths due to fires in the Pinto). It was an overhyped bullshit campaign used by the Gov't to justify even more invasive forays into regulation.

  • ||

    Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood accused the company of being "safety deaf" and said "they have a very bad business model."

    Take a wild guess at how many "business models" Ray LaHood has been involved in creating or running. No googling allowed.

    It would demand brakes that can stop a car even if the accelerator is stuck,

    I can't name a single car sold in American showrooms that functional brakes won't stop a car with the accelerator simultaneously floored. I called bullshit when this was first reported by yahoos who don't know how to fucking drive reported it. Remember the Audis in the '80s that supposedly had the same problem? Turned out to be complete bullshit. I'm no fan of Toyota (I grew up in metro Detroit, part of a Ford family) but this minor problem has morphed into "OMG! Runaway cars! We've got to do something!" hysteria* aided and abetted by a credulous media and self serving politicians.

    Looking at deaths per mile travelled in the US it should be obvious to the most casual observer that the low hanging and even midlevel safety fruit has long ago been harvested.

    I get tired of explaining the law of diminishing returns to those with a regulation fetish.

  • ||

    "they have a very bad business model."

    WTF? Toyota is one of the most successful companies of the 20th Century. They revolutionized the auto industry with their quality control and management. They made cars like the Land Cruiser that are staples in places like Africa and South America where you can die if your four wheel drive breaks down. If not for Toyota and its Japanese counterparts competing against Detroit we would still be driving Vegas. A couple of Pius's accelerate and now they have a "terrible business model"? If stupidity were a capital offense, that guy would be on death row for that statement.

  • ||

    I also never bought that a car would continue to run after you pulled out the key and engaged the hand brake.

  • Joshua||

    Unfortunately, the highest profile of the break cases was in a push to start car. The cop driving the car didn't realize that a) you need to hold the button in for 3 seconds to turn off the engine and b) he shouldn't have bothered with a controlled stop with a floored accelerator.

    Emergency situations call for emergency stops that won't melt your breaks.

  • ||

    "The cop driving the car didn't realize that a) you need to hold the button in for 3 seconds to turn off the engine "

    Then it is the cop's fault, not the car's fault. And why couldn't he drop the car into neutral?

  • Atanarjuat||

    And why couldn't he drop the car into neutral?

    I still can't figure that part out. I had a gas pedal stuck down when I was 17 and a new driver, and I didn't think to put it in neutral, but still managed to get out of traffic, into a parking space, and kill the engine with no harm done.

  • melman||

    because he was intentionally trying to kill himself, perhaps

    otherwise, there are so many things about that story that don't make sense

  • Ted S.||

    The cop was probably thinking about tasering innocent grannies.

  • Jim||

    We were looking into that based on a claim that when the vehicle is floored it is hard to get it out of gear. Tried it out in my Kia and I didn't even notice any increase in effort, so I think that claim is baseless.

    Probably in a panic situation the guy didn't know how to turn off the vehicle with the push button start. The auto industry is now trying to develop a standardized operating procedure for keyless systems so eventually it will be common knowledge and all cars will operate the same. Personnally I think 3 seconds is too long in an emergency situation.

  • ||

    I can't name a single car sold in American showrooms that functional brakes won't stop a car with the accelerator simultaneously floored.

    I agree here except that I wonder if that's only true of a vehicle that is static or nearly so instead of one already traveling at or near highway speeds. Trying to use mechanical means to slow something that has 70 mph * 2000 lbs worth of momentum will take longer than you'd like, especially if the engine is also working against that stopping force. 'course you'd be an idiot if you were simultaneously jamming on both pedals and not realizing it eventually.

  • ||

    That is true. But so many things have to fail for that to happen. First the accelerator has to stick. Then, the car has to somehow prevent you from dropping the car into neutral. And it also has to keep running even after you turn the ignition off and pull out the key. That is a lot to go wrong. I fail to see how dropping it into neutral doesn't stop you.

  • ||

    Oh, totally. Neutral is super-easy to get into in most modern cars that I know, especially with a center console gear selector. A couple of times I've accidentally dropped my car into neutral by just resting a heavy hand on the selector and not paying attention (yeah, stupid driving style, but whatever).

  • Ragin Cajun||

    2000 lbs? Are you talking about a Smart ForTwo? Try 3500 lbs, if we are talking about something like a Camry.

  • ||

    Sorry to use an easy number that was a total WAG. Sheesh.

  • Ragin Cajun||

    My apologies, I wasn't meaning to go after you. Just that I think people may not realize how much vehicle weights have been creeping upward. A mid-80's Camry weighed only 2300 lbs. Now it is 50% heavier.

  • ||

    Yeah. If libs were so concerned about the environment, they'd quit forcing companies to tack on massive weight-adding "safety" crap that isn't proven to help anyone.

    The freaking Volkswagen Golf weighs something like 3300 lbs now.

  • ||

    Take a wild guess at how many "business models" Ray LaHood has been involved in creating or running. No googling allowed.

    Pfah, no googling needed. Given the way that cabinet secretaries are picked, I'd be amazed if the "Transportation Secretary" even knows how to drive a car.

  • ||

    It would demand brakes that can stop a car even if the accelerator is stuck, require a minimum stopping distance, and create rules for vehicle electronics...Congress may also impose a vehicle fee to pay for federal regulatory activities.

    Those are some great ideas to help American automobile manufacturers sell new cars. Force them to introduce a bunch of expensive new technology and then add some regulatory fees. Maybe we can unfold some of the cars crushed during the Cash For Clunkers era.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Why not just equip the rear of vehicles with motion detectors and pictures of Henry Waxman? If another car gets too close to the back of the vehicle, the picture pops out. A picture of Waxman could stop anything in its tracks.

  • Untermensch||

    Especially if its looking up his nose. That is the psychological equivalent of a near brush with a black hole.

  • Untermensch||

    err, “…it's…” sigh...

  • Ragin Cajun||

    And yet it would cause vehicle-related strokes to skyrocket. There must be a better way.

  • Astrid||

    Wouldn't that turn the cars to stone?

  • ||

    Do you know many children would be in therapy and suffer from nightmares from such a system? How would like to be haunted by the evil mole man that lives under the bed?

  • ||

    But John, there is an entire industry devoted Teh Childrenz(tm). Ask Tanya Craft.

    How ever could we let them starve????

  • Xeones||

    But Penguin, what about the massive increase in motorists dying of hate-strokes that would result?

  • Ragin Cajun||

    Damn! Too slow!

  • Brett L||

    hate-stroke FTW

  • Ray LaHood||

    It is in the best interest of society that we monitor all traffic so that vehicles obviously out of control can be stopped.

  • Rahm Emanuel||

    I understand completely. On it.

  • Xeones||

    Hey, Cajun... FACE

    Really, though, seeing Waxman's nasty grill in front of my windshield would more likely result in me jamming on the accelerator than anything else.

  • Ragin Cajun||

    Yeah, I gotta learn to type faster.

    I think if you want to reduce the chances of an accident, you need to prevent unexpected things from happening. I can't imagine anything more unexpected than driving down the highway, listening to the radio, then suddenly having Waxman's cunt-nostrils staring at me. SURPRISE!

  • ||

    Automakers would have to install event data recorders, like the black boxes on airlines, to provide information about accidents.

    Yeah, no way that could be abused to invade the owner's privacy. Uh-huh.

  • ||

    Unintended consequences of Federal legislation? I'll have what you've been smoking!

  • ||

    Shouldn't your first name be Whiskey?

  • BHO||

    I'm here to announce an auto industry overhaul and reform package. With this legislation, every American will be required to own a car with a black-box recorder, drag-chute emergency stopping device... ... this program will actually save $194 billion over 7 years.

  • tim||

    Toyota already uses event data recorders:

    In many cars there isn't a mechanical connection between the accelerator and the engine and between the gear selector and the transmission. And with push button starting cars, there's no physical electrical connection between the key (if there is one) and the electrical system of the car.

  • tim||

    Just about all cars built in the last 3 years contain EDRs.

  • ||

    "This vehicle may speed dangerously out of control and kill me without warning?" they say. "OK, but I'm not paying sticker."

    I have a quibble with this statement. If people believed that Toyota were producing unsafe product, they wouldn't buy it. Cars are too dangerous to gamble much on. The fact is, most people already trust the quality and safety of the brand enough and distrust the government's motives sufficiently to ignore most of this and keep on buying.

  • ||

    Not true! I know plenty of people that would buy unsafe cars. It's called an "alibi"! Why take a chance in cutting brake lines when Toyota will do it for you, lol. It also cuts down on divorce costs.

  • ||

    "I can't wait to see the fabulous new 2012 Waxman. I'm going to camp out in the dealer's parking lot, so I can be first in line for the unveiling! Bigger, heavier, slower; and it runs on fuel nobody sells!"

  • Zeb||

    I would just like to point out that Motorhead kicks much ass.

  • Mark||

    For those of you wondering whether the brakes on modern cars can stop them under full acceleration:

    Short answer -- yes. even a Rousch Stage 3 Mustang sporting some 550 horsepower (although it gets a bit dicey above 70 mph).

    With a more pedestrian Toyota Camry full throttle adds around 15 feet to the stopping distance from 70 mph (174' closed throttle, 190' full throttle).

  • ||

    "automakers have developed many of today's significant safety innovations without a government mandate, including anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control (ESC), adaptive headlights, side airbags and curtains, front passenger safety belt reminder systems and advanced collision avoidance features like lane departure warning, blind spot monitors and adaptive cruise control."

    In December 2001, I bought a new Honda Civic, top of the line EX model. It "only" had front airbags, rear anti-lock brakes, plus the usual seat belts, etc. I got it for less than invoice, which was a good deal on a economy car.

    Last June, it was stolen. Insurance paid off promptly, I went out and bought -- wait for it -- a brand new Honda Civic! While I could now afford an Accord, or even a Ridgeline, when forced to buy earlier than my financial planning had prepared me, I choose to return to the economy model I had enjoyed. The kicker is, for effectively the same purchase price as before, but on a mid-tier LX-S model, I got: front side-curtain air bags, 4 wheel anti-lock brakes, and improved horsepower (at the "cost" of the same gas efficiency), plus a host of other extras that I like, but would not have paid extra for. Notice, this example is mild when you consider that, as little as 10 years ago, anti-locks, traction control, etc. were only add-ons or found on "Luxury" models. Now your eco-box Prius has features only found on BMWs, Porches, and other "rich people's cars" years ago. The market provided the tech to meet the incentive: customers waving cash.

  • ||

    The article also doesn't mention front airbags, pioneered by GM and installed as an option in '74 or so Oldsmobiles and the like...I think that'd be, what, 20 years before they were mandated?

  • ||

    argh..pioneered in production by GM. Other people experimented with them, chiefly Ford, before them.

  • ||

    Actually the real issue here is that these people were killed by bad legislation.

    Auto makers started working with fly-by-wire (i.e. completely electronic) throttle controls due to the need to meet overzealous emissions requirements imposed by Congress and the states.

    A conventional (i.e. hard) throttle cable works just fine and doesn't have these problems, but it does not allow for the degree of fine tuning required for the before mentioned emissions requirements.

    The use of these kinds of controls also significantly increases the cost of the vehicle yet at the same time adding little in terms of driveability or performance.

    What amazes me the most about all of this is that for a product whose basic design features were set in the 1940's consumers expect to pay more with every advancing year. Additionally, virtually all of these costs are associated with manufacturers being forced to meet ever more stringent requirements for emissions.

  • Mark||

    There is no evidence whatsoever that electronic controls have malfunctioned. No one knows what is causing the uncommanded acceleration problems. There seems to be a correlation between the numbers of reported incidents and vehicles with electronic controls, but as any scientist will tell you, correlation does not equal causation. The NHTSA has not pointed specifically at electronic throttle controls as the problem, ignorant reporters in the media have.

    Reporters pointing at electronic controls are making an argument from ignorance.

    The argument goes like this:

    "We don't know exactly what's causing the problem. Data seems to indicate some cars with 'new' electronic throttle control systems experience the problem more frequently. The problem must be caused by the new electronic throttle control systems."

  • Scarpe Nike||

    is good


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