Thursday, September 20, 2007

Of The Feds, Fat and Foolishness

Oi, You There, Is That Grasshopper Rated For A Bloke As Fat As You?

According to USA Today, and as covered here, a little known byproduct of the "exploding tyres cause SUV wrecks" frenzy a couple of years ago, as brought to you by de-laminating Firestone rubber and the ubiquitous Ford Explorer, was that the Feds decided to invent yet another round of pointless rules and regulations to blight our lives with. Nope, I'm not surprised, either by that response or by the fact that they managed to get it all arse-over-end.

Simply put, they concocted a single formula to define what's a safe carrying weight for any vehicle and what's not, all based on the maximum number of occupants declared by the manufacturer. From 2006, the results of that single calculation are now stamped and stuck onto every new car sold here. Job done. And all with time left over for another round of doughnuts in Washington to celebrate a fine initiative that is clearly making America safer.

Well ... no. Instead, think more along the lines of "pointless government bloat, the sole purpose of which is to make them feel important and to keep the buggers employed" to help guide you back to reality. And even that cynicism might be underplaying things, as we shall see ...

Let's take an example: The Corvette. As American as apple pie and invading countries without the faintest idea of what to do when you win. Even the basic model packs 400 horsepower and 400 lb ft of torque. This thing could tow the space shuttle from California back to Florida and still out-drag your average Camry away from the lights. However, the Fed's formula says that the max. permissible passenger loading for this car is less than 4oo pounds. In other words, a couple of (US) average sized male adults (190 lbs each) alone exceeds that figure, not allowing for the needs of luggage to be carried nor even one of the occupants wearing a particularly heavy tweed that day.

How long, then, before the first law suit is brought in which an insurance company refuses to pay out after an accident by claiming that the records show the car involved was obviously being used unsafely simply because the passengers inside were a bit porkier than average or had the temerity to actually have an overnight bag on board?

Sound far-fetched? Then you don't know the US insurance industry. Loopholes like this are their bread-and-butter, their very lifeblood. Indeed, if you were a real cynic, you might end up concluding that they helped lobby for this rule to be introduced in the first place ....

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