Sunday, November 19, 2006

Expendability Reminders On Vacation

Just over the Vermont state line (first exit off the Interstate) is one of those welcome centers where you can find pamphlets and coupons for various opportunities to add your money to the local economy. My significant other and I always stop at that center whenever we drive through Massachusetts to Vermont, and I always suffer a momentary twinge of low-grade irritation when we leave the welcome center and I see the following sign on the ramp leading back to the highway:

AIRBAGS SAVE LIVES
place children in rear seat

You do know why placing children in the rear seat is important, don't you? Every time I see that sign I want to jump out of the car and post another of my own:

BECAUSE THOSE LIFE-SAVING AIRBAGS WILL KILL A CHILD

This would probably be a felony, though, so it’s damned lucky I never have any such sign on hand whenever I go to Vermont.

Did I mention that I’m back from my vacation? Yes, it was very relaxing and I’m feeling quite the princess of mellowness, these days. By the way, I just remembered that I need to take my car to a mechanic to have the driver’s-side airbag removed because I’m only five-foot-three, which means I have to sit so close to the steering wheel that if the bag inflated it would instantly kill me.

It's not the car manufacturers' fault, though; the government requires them to booby-trap cars so that they kill short drivers in the event of a collision. It's a safety rule whose touted benefits irritate me every time I go to Vermont; airbags save lives but you'd better keep your children in the back seat.

12 Comments:

Anonymous A Moose said...

Welcome back :)

It's not the car manufacturers' fault, though, the government requires them to booby-trap cars so that they kill short drivers in the event of a collision.

The best part is, the reason they're booby trapped is so they might stop someone who is stupid enough to not wear the seat belt to begin with. Seems to me that if a person does so (which they have rights to, regardless how stupid it may be) they've pretty much given evidence they don't want to survive a crash.

2:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While working on the ambulance, I've run into this more than once: the patient has been in a nasty wreck. They are unhurt. Except, that is, for the contusions and skin irritation caused by the airbag. Sometimes, you can see the pattern of the bag's weave imprinted on the patient's face.

In the vast majority of cases, the injuries are no more serious than you might get from a punch in the face. Still, they're injuries that shouldn't have happened.

Aside- Seatbelts work. Put the damn thing on, and your odds of surviving go way, way up. The same is true of child seats. I've been to a couple of wrecks where the parent is hurt, but the kids, who were in child seats were fine.
Disclaimer-No, I don't favor seatbelt laws. I just think you're a fargin' moron if you don't wear one.

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous is me (Number_6) btw.

10:30 AM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

Hey... "Short People got no reason to live!" Right? ;-)

8:36 PM  
Blogger David Macharelli said...

It's vehicular eugenics, Jennifer.

7:36 AM  
Anonymous A Moose said...

Anonymous said...
Anonymous is me (Number_6) btw.


Huh?

7:45 AM  
Anonymous NoStar said...

I see that my own personal restraint is of no particular value. I refer not of seatbelts nor airbags, but of the considerable restraint I had to impose upon myself that kept me from quoting Randy Newman lyrics.

9:34 AM  
Blogger Anne O'Neimaus said...

We short people are always the last to know when it's raining. ;)

9:52 AM  
Anonymous NoStar said...

Anne O',
You're also the first to recognize the severity of the flood.

12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As the resident big-government liberal on your blog, Jen, allow me to actually agree with your stated annoyance with vehicle airbags. There is no shortage of anecdotes from people who have been injured in automobile accidents solely from the "safety device" exploding out of their steering wheels - indeed, my own wife is still suffering the effects of one such incident. Her car was side-swiped, and she was in no immediate danger of harm from any impact, UNTIL the airbag deployed and damaged her shoulder, neck, and chest.

I agree completely with Number_6. Seat belts are incredibly effective, don't carry the same risk of decapitating the very people they are intended to protect, and NO, they should not be required by law, unless you can point me to a study that shows where un-seat belted bodies have come hurtling out of cars to cause OTHERS to have accidents.

6:38 AM  
Blogger Anne O'Neimaus said...

...and NO, they should not be required by law, unless you can point me to a study that shows where un-seat belted bodies have come hurtling out of cars to cause OTHERS to have accidents.

I think the argument for requiring seat-belts by law goes something like:

1. More injuries/deaths puts more strain/cost on our emergency and support systems.

2. Minors and others who are not legally competent should be protected in the best way possible, consistent with reasonable cost and effort.

3. If it saves even one life, it's worth it.

Point #1 has some merit, I guess, but it could just as easily be handled by letting insurance companies stiff people more who don't wear seat-belts.

Point #2 probably has merit, period. If you're for baby-seats, then you should be for similar protection for other minors. If not, then you're not.

Point #3 is just ludicrous. While, IMHO seat-belts should always be worn, legislation based on this type of argument has always been a bit much to swallow. The 55 mph laws are a perfect example - how many human-lives worth of time are lost in forcing slower traffic? I never see a pure "apples-vs-apples" cost-benefit analysis taking into account the measurable downsides, just an emotional appeal based on an ill-defined "it saves lives".

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Stevo Darkly said...

While working on the ambulance, I've run into this more than once: the patient has been in a nasty wreck. They are unhurt. Except, that is, for the contusions and skin irritation caused by the airbag. Sometimes, you can see the pattern of the bag's weave imprinted on the patient's face.

In the vast majority of cases, the injuries are no more serious than you might get from a punch in the face. Still, they're injuries that shouldn't have happened.

I'm not a shill for Big Airbag, nor am I in favor of seatbelt laws, airbag laws, etc., but I feel compelled to raise the question: Could it be that the very reason the victims' had no other injuries was because the airbag deployed and protected them from such?

6:27 PM  

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