Apr 26, 2005

Automotive physics for dummies

My cousin Chris recently noticed those stange, vaguely informative billboards for SUV drivers and asks the appropriate question: What is ESUVEE.com? He discovers that it's a "helpful" site put up by the auto safety board. And he muses that maybe speeding tickets should be related to the size of your car, or better yet, your gas mileage.

I visited the site. It talks about driving speed, loading and tire pressure. Basic stuff. Nary a word about gas mileage. Or poor safety. Or the fact that Detroit auto makers actually have great disdain for SUV drivers. Or that psychological tests have shown said drivers on the whole to be more selfish and insecure than the norm.

(For back-up for those off-the-cuff assertsions, go here, here and here. Plus Malcom Gladwell's New Yorker article.)

Seems to me that if you need to explain to people how to use a specific piece of machinery, in this case the most popular vehicle in the land, it reveals two large problems: 1) roadway safety and 2) insufficient driver training.

The last two times I drove up to Tahoe in a snowstorm the only vehicles I saw stranded on the side of the highway were SUVs...a combination of false confidence and poor skills.

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