Sunday, September 25, 2005

Guillotines among us

As I drive around in my fuel-efficient car, it is obvious to me that if I am ever so unfortunate as to have a collision with any of roughly 50 percent of the vehicles on the road, my front bumper will make its first contact with the other vehicle’s rear axle, while I am decapitated by their rear so-called “bumper.” This will make my car’s airbags pretty irrelevant.

I know that California once had bumper height regulations, but unfortunately, in clear and total disregard to those of us who are responsible and civic-minded enough to drive vehicles of reasonable size and fuel efficiency, those height standards have been tossed out. I cannot understand why so much effort is being put into increasing vehicle and highway safety in other ways that are comparatively trivial, when non-matching bumper heights present such a huge hazard.

With one hand, the government encourages fuel efficiency (e.g., by letting hybrids into HOV lanes), but they fail to make the roads safe for these vehicles, and I have no doubt that this is a major reason that more people are not willing to drive regular car-sized vehicles. As long as the behemoths can position their bumpers at the height of our necks, we risk death by driving in their midst. (I also don’t know why they’d even call them “bumpers” anymore when that’s clearly not their design purpose. They should call them “guillotines.”)

Couldn’t we bring back some uniformity to bumper heights, and return them to their intended roles as “bumpers”? This would constitute a far greater increase to highway safety than do side air bags, and would provide needed encouragement to those who would like to purchase fuel-efficient vehicles, to the greater social and environmental good .


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