Saving kids’ lives AND taxpayers’ money

I edited something out of today’s lead editorial before it got into the paper. Originally, it was the last in a series of bulleted items celebrating the few good highway safety provisions in the otherwise pork-laden federal highway bill. Here’s what I cut:

  • The government must study ways to reduce the problem of vehicles accidentally backing over children in driveways.

It’s not that I don’t want to save kids’ lives. It’s that I couldn’t see this newspaper going on the record as praising the idea of spending perfectly good money searching for an answer that is so painfully obvious that it makes you want to weep over humanity’s collective blindness.

You want to know, Mr. and Mrs. America, how to prevent most of these tragedies from occurring?

Stop driving SUVs!

Yes, it’s that simple. This provision came about because some advocates wanted to require TV cameras in the backs of SUVs so that their drivers could actually see little people behind them for a change, and others didn’t want to place that requirement on manufacturers and buyers. This absurdly unnecessary study was the compromise between the two positions.

I’ve seen these devices on high-end SUVs (they run about $1,500 to $2,000), and I just have to shake my head — what an extreme, Rube Goldberg sort of way to solve a problem that wouldn’t even exist if everybody just bought sensible cars to start with.

Of course, even "sensible" cars these days are being built with rear ends so high that it’s hard to see little ones. And why is that? They need the tall trunks as defensive measures, to keep SUVs from running up over them and crushing their occupants. But if where were no SUVs, this wouldn’t be necessary.

Just think, we could prevent these needless tragedies, save the ozone layer, reduce global warming and send a little less money to underwrite terrorism, through the simple expedient of facing the fact that we’re actually driving down the suburban street to the supermarket, and not hunting rhino on the Serengeti.

Anyway, I thought removing that improved the editorial. Don’t you agree?

4 thoughts on “Saving kids’ lives AND taxpayers’ money

  1. The Kid

    It’s not the vehicle, it’s the driver. How many good drivers, even in cop cars, do you see daily? How frequently do you see turn signals used? How many burned out brake lights do you notice each week? How often to folks check and replace wiper blades? Who checks tire pressure any more? Why don’t young drivers, especially male, sit up so they can see out of their windows? Or why do female drivers position the seat so close to the steering wheel that their elbows are too bent for a quick maneuver and any airbag will have too little time to prevent injury in the event of a collision? How many vehicles to you see with window tint that’s obviously too dark? How about those who insist on using their auxiliary lights (fog or driving lights) at night in clear weather? How often to you see California stops at stop signs or at red lights before turning right? What about some of the oldsters cruising in Park Avenues, Caddies, or Lincolns down the road at 25 MPH, blissfully unaware of traffic, weather, pedestrians, and traffic controls? Need I mention the idiots who stop in the merge lane when entering an interstate? How often do you notice a driver heading down the road talking on a cell phone, smoking, and juggling a drink simultaneously? If you want a good time, head down to Gervais between Assembly and Huger at lunch time to watch the guy and gal drivers talking with their luncheon companions or engaged on their cell phones as they navigate around, oblivious to traffic controls, pedestrians, and other vehicles. Then understand that there is no safe way for you to get back to the office.
    SUVs are sensible for a lot of folks, especially those who haul people or materials daily or even just on weekends. Do you count minivans, pickups, and full-sized sedans as vehicles lacking sense and sensibility?
    I’ve no need for an SUV and have never owned one. Yet I fail to see the value of blaming a class of vehicles when the issue is the poor habits, inattention, and complete absences of awareness on the part of the driver.

  2. Dee

    Anything that draws attention to child fatalities, in my opinion, is a good thing. If one little life is saved due to a study coming up with solutions, then it is worth it.
    Regarding cell phones per the previous comment, how often do you NOT see people chatting on them whilst driving?

  3. Ellen

    Though I’m no fan at all of SUVs (and who in the hell really needs a HUMMER?!?) this time I have to agree with the Kid; it’s the idiots behind the wheels, Brad. Drivers today are either lazy or believe they own all rights to the road. Or both.
    They switch lanes without looking. How many times have I had to hit the brakes and the horn and swerve out of their way? Plenty. They pull out of side streets and even driveways at full throttle, never slowing down to check traffic.
    I’ve been driving for 30 years and I’ll swear. Columbia drivers have to be the worst I’ve ever battled.
    Yesterday I couldn’t understand why a cabbie ahead of me sat awhile after our light turned green. Then I saw him through his side-view mirror; he was watching a car coming toward him from the left. Through the red light.
    Guns don’t kill people; people do. SUVs don’t kill children; drivers do.

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