Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Speedometers: Immoral?

It appears that people like to have speedometers that, like the amps for Spinal Tap, go all the way to 11.   The story.

Okay, in this case it's a little different, because Spinal Tap really could turn up the amp all the way.  But there is NO way that a Corolla is going to do 160.

This may be silly.  Fine, in fact it is silly.  But should the government regulate it?  And is this the reason government should regulate it?  It's IMMORAL?

The rising speedometer numbers aren't surprising to Joan Claybrook, the top federal auto safety regulator under President Jimmy Carter. She's been fighting the escalation for years and says it encourages drivers _ especially younger ones _ to drive too fast. During her tenure, she briefly got speedometer numbers lowered.
"They think that speed sells," she said of automakers. "People buy these cars because they want to go fast." ...For years, most speedometers topped out at 120 _ even though that was 50 mph over the limit in most states. Then, in 1980, Claybrook, who ran the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, limited speedometers to 85 mph, even though cars could go much faster.
The move, designed to end the temptation to push cars to their limits, drew outrage from gearheads nationwide. Some automakers got around the rule by ending the numbers at 85 but leaving lines beyond that to show higher speeds. The government also forced automakers to highlight 55 mph, which at the time was the fuel-saving national speed limit.
The limit was short-lived, overturned two years later by President Ronald Reagan, who campaigned on a pledge to end onerous government regulations. Cars with 85 mph speedometers lingered for several years until they were redesigned and the maximum speeds for most returned to 120.
By the 2000s, however, the speedometer speeds crept higher. Even compact cars showed 130 or 140 mph. The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette speedometer and some Jaguar models now peak at 200.
Claybrook concedes there's no data to show the 85 mph limit saved lives, but she believes it did. She calls the ever-higher speedometer numbers "immoral."
 Lagniappe:  "The fuel-saving national speed limit"?  The fuel-saving limit would be zero.  Further, there is only one resource we can't get more off:  time.  Fuel we can work around, get more of, etc.  The 55 speed limit was a "time-wasting national speed limit."


W.E. Heasley said...

Ah, one must consider Claybrook inadvertently exposing a common thread, that of the notional proposition, underlying much government regulation:

‘Claybrook concedes there's no data to show the 85 mph limit saved lives, but she believes it did. She calls the ever-higher speedometer numbers "immoral." ‘

When using a notional proposition to paint the world in one’s own self-image, for Claybrook, when such painting is rejected, the new substituted shade of paint becomes “immoral”. Is the particular paint shade “immoral” found at the Sherman Williams store between shades black and white or is it in the faux collection?

Anonymous said...

Typical Claybrook. She is constantly harping on how NHTSA is being undermined, even a deaths per miles drive continues to fall.

Tom said...

I amazed by the implications of "Claybrook concedes there's no data..." The reporter actually saw fit to ask the question! Then still reported the unsatisfying answer. Good for you, Mr. No-byline Ap.

When Claybrook says there is no data to support her, that doesn't mean there is no data. There's data.

Anonymous said...

Mungo, you h8r.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Maybe we have too much time on our hands, though, if people can make careers out of regulating speedometers and even out of lobbying for such regulations.

There might be an ounce of sense to calling 55 mph "fuel-saving". I think it really is the speed at which most cars get maximum miles per gallon since at higher speeds wind becomes important. Still a bad policy, though.

Anonymous said...

immoral? Naah. But there is something a bit fraudulent about strongly suggesting that a car can go 200 when it can't. (It also makes the lower numbers, the speeds at which it is legal to drive the car, hard to see.)

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