Wednesday, August 03, 2005

OBSERVATION: Family members killed in antique car

Associated Press (Aug 3) reported on the tragic death of three family members when there 1929 DuesenberG was hit by a Volvo. Noting that antique autos do not have the safety equipment and manufacturing requirements of modern cars, there is a call for laws to require modifications that would compromise the authenticity and value of the antique roadsters. (And, the Duesenberg carred a $1.5 million sticker price.)

Many inexpensivie foreign cars are barred from the U.S. market becasue they do not meet rigid American safety standards, such as bumper heights, air bags, and cup holders. (Cup holders? Yeah. I was thinking of that lady who sued McDonald's after spilling her coffee in her lap.)

All this concern would be well placed except fo one thing. We allow people to ride the streets and highways at high speeds balanced on two wheeled vehicle lacking every saftey feature conceived my mankind. Drivers and passangers zoom down the expressways with little more protection than t-shirts and jeans. We call the vehicles motorcycles.

Also, despite safety standards, few car will withstand the impact of one of those SUVs on steroids. Check out their bumper heights -- precisely measured to impact on the windshield of the average car.

Don't get me wrong. I am all for people taking risks in their "pursuit of happiness" promised by our Declaration of Independence -- including motorcyclists. My view is more in opposition to the hyper regulators who see government restricitons as the natural response to every tragedy. Given the relative injury and death rates between motorcyles and antique cars, I think the regulators should just back off.

I also believe we should allow importation of some of those sweet little foreign cars that save on gas and provide basic low cost transportation. People do get killed in $150,000 tank-like SUV's (but it usually takes an 18-wheeler) -- suggesting that tragedies are more the product of fateful circumstances and human misjudgements than equipment.

The safety of our freedom is a good thing -- and it is best accomplished by NOT passing excessive legislation. If we could only reign in that urge by our lawmakers.

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