Wednesday, December 21, 2011

QotD: Denying Darwin His Due Edition

Advancing the theory that people drive like idiots because we do everything possible to allow idiots to drive, to the point where we have transformed the modern automobile into a driving prosthetic for inattentive, self-absorbed simpletons with the nimble reflexes of tree sloths, Adaptive Curmudgeon writes:
"There is circuitry to protect the batteries of people who can’t figure out how to turn the headlights off. Think about that! We are sharing the road with people who can’t operate a light switch. Laws against cell phones won’t help you with people that can’t handle an on/off switch."
Word. You should go read the whole thing. And not just because he said that I was awesome in his opening paragraph.


Joseph said...

Txt laws are generally stupid, much like nearly any other nanny law. But comparing them to a modern convenience isn't winning me over. If you're bent out of shape because I like a car that turns the headlights on/off automatically and you type those words to be spread about the world on electrons by a super fancy calculator, well FAIL.

Steve said...

Frank J makes a pretty good argument that if cars were just now invented, there's no way the .gov would let us have them.

Gewehr98 said...

A-ha! Facilitating the Feeble!

That explains why Buick is still in existence while Saturn and Pontiac are now gone...

global village idiot said...

Here's an interesting thing to ponder:

According to this:

Auto fatalities have - with two outlying exceptions - have declined steadily since 1995.

This despite the fact that - according to this:

...motor vehicles on the road have increased since 1960.

This is from wikipedia; however, the sources are probably trustworthy enough for the purposes of a blog post. I suspect it'd be easy to corroborate both trends.

If we stipulate that the above two trends - decreasing accidents and increasing motor vehicle fleet - are indeed based in fact, either or both of two phenomena obtain:
1) People in the aggregate aren't as dumb as we think they are,
2) Automotive engineers are doing a much better job of protecting idiots from themselves.


Tam said...


Ah, but decreasing fatalities != decreasing accidents.

global village idiot said...

True but I'm at work, rather lazy, and don't care to look up reported traffic accident trends, supposing I even knew where to begin looking for the data.

If someone has it, I agree - it would be more compelling than simply looking at fatalities.


Drang said...

NTSB's own damn lies, I mean, statistics, show about 3000 traffic fatalities due to "driving while distracted" last year, in which fewer than a third involved cell phones or PDAs. (I question them including PDAs, these days, if it doesn't phone home, it probably doesn't text, either. There are exceptions, but they're few.)

As Tam noted, fatalities does not equate to accidents, cars are getting safer every year, even as they are even more heavily regulated to death every year. However, I think that, if we let Occam shave this one, we will conclude that the NTSB has decided to take away the initiative from the several state legislatures, and make itself more relevant; many states have acted to prohibit texting/calling while driving laws over the last couple of years, and the Traffic Nannies want their piece of the action.

Will said...

Having been involved in handling crashes on freeways, I can attest to the fact that cars are much safer than they used to be. As long as you are using your seat belt to keep yourself in place, your odds of surviving with just bumps and bruises is incredibly high. Even after totaling it.

However, sans belt, your next ride is most likely in that white van with all the twinkling lights.

Sigivald said...

There's a big difference between "not being able to figure out how to turn off the lights" and "forgetting to hit the switch because it's light out and you got distracted by something right as you were leaving the car".

Just sayin'.

azmountaintroll said...

Darwin, Murphy and all the other Gods of the Copybook Headings are just biding their time and making lists. Someday soon a hard rain's gonna fall...

Anonymous said...

I have long postulated that replacing driver side airbags with eight inch rusty iron spikes would reduce accidents (if not fatalities)

Tam said...

Joseph, Sigivald,

There might be just a little hyperbole goin' on here, knowhutahmsayin'?

Drang said...

I also feel obligated to confess that I always have to consult the owner's manual when I need to turn the headlights off--the Drangmobile has the oh-so-chic Always On Lights, which the gate guards at Ft Lewis hate so much, because, if I am for some reason going on post after dark, I have to pull over, turn off the engine, and then manipulate the switch a specific way to get the thing to start without the headlights being on.
Always on Headlights are one safety feature that do seem to work as intended, BTW.

Buzz said...

If our legislators are going to indulge the whims of the socialists that expect laws to flow from government like diarrhea from a chocolate chowing dog, could they at least pass one that allows me to legally unload the magazine of my CCW in the vehicle of the oblivious twit texting in front of me who causes me to miss the "turn on green arrow only" light?

Anonymous said...

Can't figure out how I've managed all these years, 'cause a couple of my vehicles have 3 pedals on the floor and the dimmer switch down there, too. I know if a guy with my limited intelligence can manage to manipulate all those and the blinker, 3-on-the tree and an actual steering wheel, most anybody else should be able to move about safely on 4 wheels.
I've even managed to get somewhere north of 100K miles on motorcycles and haven't hurt myself or anybody else too badly. I tell folks that since my wife has fallen asleep while playin' fender bunny I must not be all that exciting a rider, but maybe I'm just so smooth that she thinks she's home on the couch. And, no, it ain't an Old Wing or Geezerglide. ;^)

Rob J

Joseph said...


Hyperbole is the worst thing EVAR!!!1!

Justthisguy said...

The battery which came with my 1983 Mazda B2000 lasted 7 or 8 years. Because why? Because I never let it discharge completely, such as by forgetting to turn off the headlights.

Oh God I miss that truck. It had an actual brass radiator, and no clutch interlock on the starter. Thus I was able to move it off the road with the starter, once, in a case of dire necessity.

Anonymous said...

"There is circuitry to protect the batteries of people who can’t figure out how to turn the headlights off.

I hold a PhD in Physics. My job is to build, program and debug sophisticated automated test stations for exotic military aircraft sensor systems.

Nevertheless, I have had instances in the past of requiring several minutes to figure out how to turn on/off the headlights on some cars the first time I had to drive one - particularly some Cadillacs with headlight timing systems. I can understand how my granny would have a problem with those.

T.Stahl said...

re: light switch

My first car, a Jetta, didn't have a beeping reminder if I left the headlights switched on but dimmed them down do parking lights when I switched off the ignition.
My second car, an Audi A2, has a beeping reminder, effectively elimitating the possibility that I'd leave the lights on and drain the battery - in that car.
My wife's Opel Corsa has neither and you can leave the lights full on.

Guess what happens to every now an then? I return to a Corsa with a empty battery.
Damn Nanny automobile manufacturers!

Tam said...


The Zed Drei has a headlight reminder that is worthy of its own post...

Doug said...

In a country where we hand out a driver's license to anyone who has a pulse and some idea of which pedal makes it go (not to metion we never take that license away, regardless of multiple DUIs, extreme old age, etc.), I think it isn't always phones that's distracting drivers. There are lots of shiny things visible out on the road.

dave said...


Your snark is well-placed, and your hyperbole contributes, but in some vehicles--due to bad design--the beeper is important.

Take, for example, the 2004 Explorer. Rather than the organ-stop switch, it has a knob with a vertical bar that turns clockwise. Off is vertical, 1 o'clock is parking lights, 2 o'clock is "please, please kill my battery!" I've never forgotten to turn the thing off, but I bump the dash with my right knee about every third time I get out. I move the switch two clicks about every ten of those.

Bastards of Bad Design, I curse you, but I at least thank you for giving me a call to prayer to send that curse.

(Also, 11 o'clock is auto-headlights. WTF is that for?)