NHTSA announces stupidity prevention rule


I'm here to protect you from yourself!

AutoBlog posted this news item about NHTSA’s new “ejection mitigation” regulation.

In summary, NHTSA wants to be sure that when a car rolls over, you don’t fall out. The most effective course of action is — of course — to wear your goddamned seatbelt. But since that old schoolmarm Joan Claybrook started wagging her spindly finger in our collective faces during the Carter Administration, about 9/10ths of NHTSA’s regulations have centered around saving stupid people who can’t seem to latch their belts.

Years ago, I had a picture of Aunt Joan on my desk with a quote blathering on about how critical it was that airbags be mandatory safety equipment in order to save the stupid (to be fair, she called them “unbelted.”) That was around the time when manufacturers had done as they were told, and charged the bags with enough explosive force to protect people who were laying on the back deck, kneeling on their seats, sitting upside down, what-have-you.

The Law of Unintended Consequences naturally kicked in, and soon after, we learned that people were being injured due to the force of the airbags. Gee, who could’ve seen that coming?

Now, we’re down to the seeds and stems of automotive safety, and NHTSA’s got to manufacture things for itself to mandate. Soon, you’re going to see rear-view cameras and video screens to help America’s dumb avoid killing fewer than 300 people a year because they’re too fat or lazy to look out the back window.

Part of the “ejection mitigation” rule is to modify the anchors on existing side airbags, and part of the rule calls for “advanced glazing” of side windows to keep unbelted people inside the car, where they can rattle around like that little pea in a referee’s whistle.

Here are the two lines that grabbed me in NHTSA’s communication on the subject:

“We estimate that this rule will save 373 lives and prevent 476 serious injuries per year.”

“The cost of this final rule is approximately $31 per vehicle.”

Hey, $31, that’s cheap! Who wouldn’t spend $31?

Well, I wouldn’t. I was an English major and my math skills stink, so check my cypherin’, but it seems to me that thirty-one bucks per car in a bad 11 million unit year like 2010, for example, amounts to an expenditure of $341 million.

Divided by 373 lives, that leaves me with the sum total of $919,173.47 per life saved.

Am I on airplane glue, or is that a bad investment?


About Craig Fitzgerald

Craig Fitzgerald is an automotive writer, photographer and editor with credits in Hemmings Motor New, the Boston Globe, Forbes, the Washington Post, Esquire and BoldRide.com
This entry was posted in Legislation, NHTSA. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to NHTSA announces stupidity prevention rule

  1. Brent says:

    Does anyone know how many standard-sized marshmallows it takes to fill a Volvo 740 wagon?

    Really, who cares? And this exercise would be every bit as useful as what is proposed above. Hell, why not stuff the cars with the damn marshmellows?

  2. Beez says:

    We are going to need those 360 degree cameras because when they mandate roll cages, 5-point safety harnesses, Haans devices and helmets for all occupants, no one will be able turn their heads far enough to look in any direction but straight ahead. But think of all the lives it will save.

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