More nanny state auto regulation

Ray Lahood

LaHood: "This is how much I know about transportation."

Back when our dear comrade leader was building his cabinet of czars, commissars, bureaucrats and apparatchiks, he chose Ray LaHood, retiring republican congressman from Illinois for Transportation Secretary. In doing so he not only boosted his bipartisan creds but also got a big spending career bureaucrat with virtually no experience or knowledge of transportation issues (more here). Who could ask for anything more?


In 2 years LaHood has not only demonstrated his vacuity on transportation in general (more here), but also that he is a arrogant nanny-stater. When questioned about concerns of government intrusion with one of his ridiculous policy proposals, LaHood famously quipped:

“About everything we do around here is government intrusion in people’s lives,” said LaHood. “So have at it.”

In other words, we don’t care what you think about government being up your sphincter – deal with it. Nice.

Hot on the heels of proposing cell phone disabling technology for cars (more here), old Ray is talking about forcing auto manufacturers to install backup cameras in all vehicles (story here from Bloomberg).

U.S. auto-safety regulators proposed requiring backup cameras on all new vehicles by 2014 to prevent drivers from backing over pedestrians, a rule that may cost as much as $2.7 billion.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which published the proposed rule today, said an average of 292 people die each year from back-over accidents, which primarily kill children and the elderly. To equip a new-vehicle fleet of 16.6 million produced in a year would cost from $1.9 billion to $2.7 billion, the agency said in the proposal, calling the cost “substantial” and saying it might reduce back-over deaths and injuries by almost half.

Great. For a cost to the consumer of $1.9B – $2.7B we can save 150 lives. Of course the Auto Industry is expected to go along with this – because they’re not paying for it, consumers are.

“Given that our top priority is keeping people, especially children, safe in and around autos, the Alliance looks forward to working with regulators to ensure that, in the end, we have enhancements that saves lives and improve safety,” Wade Newton, a spokesman for the Washington-based alliance, said in an e- mail.

“AIAM supports the establishment of performance-based requirements that provide maximum flexibility to manufacturers in selecting approaches to meet enhanced rear visibility requirements,” Annemarie Pender, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based international group, said in an e-mail. “Our members invest billions of dollars into saving lives by researching, creating and deploying advanced safety features on their vehicles.”

I personally don’t have a problem with this technology – it’s actually quite cool. If it improves safety, then that’s a big plus too. I am simply against some bureaucrat tool forcing it on everyone whether they want it or not. If most people want this, the auto manufacturers will do it because it’s good for business. Make it an option, not a requirement.

Just as a point of reference, here are some statistics (from 2000) on accidental deaths:

  • Drowning and submersion while in or falling into bath-tub – 341
  • Fall on same level from slipping, tripping and stumbling – 565
  • Fall involving bed, chair, other furniture – 650
  • Accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed – 327
  • Inhalation of gastric contents – 382
  • Other and unspecified electric current – 296
  • Alcohol poisoning – 302

As you can see, we have a lot of nanny-state work to do…


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