By James Baxter, NMA President
This past week, Ray LaHood, Secretary of the US Dept. of Transportation made a splash with his announcement that, fat floor mats aside, their investigation could find no fault with Toyota throttles and that it appeared the unintended acceleration of Toyota vehicles was caused by drivers stepping on the gas pedal when they meant to hit the brake.
We’ve been through this before, same issue, same cause, same hysteria, and same government gyrations that manage to ignore the practical fact that brakes overpower engines.
The next time gas prices hit four or five dollars a gallon some retired plumber out of San Francisco is going to make headlines by demanding that speed limits be reduced to save fuel and thousands of lives, which will lead to energy independence and dramatic reductions in healthcare expenses.
It’s been a few years, but it’s about time for an elderly driver to plow into a farmers market or careen across a school playground at recess time. Out will come the demands for testing older drivers, doing eye tests, and setting maximum ages for operator licenses. Never mind that none of these measures would have prevented these high profile crashes. More than likely the driver had dementia and hadn’t had a license for six years — but did have perfect eyesight.
This will be followed a few weeks later by someone with a BAC of .32 percent traveling the wrong way on an Interstate highway who takes on a fuel tanker and creates an explosion that can be heard 20 miles away. Within weeks 12 states are proposing the legal BAC limit be reduced to .02 Percent and fuel trucks should only be allowed on urban Interstates between the hours of 10 AM and 2 PM.
Why do we put up with this nonsense? The media, elected officials, even the general public seems to suffer amnesia, or maybe they just see a chance to push their own warped agenda? Whatever the cause, the cost is horrendous. Toyota lost billions of dollars through this fiasco. Before Toyota the same thing happened to Audi.
Pity on us, if we have to endure another 55 MPH speed limit because fuel prices exceed our pain threshold. Think of the billions upon billions of dollars that were wasted every year, for 22 years, because of the last great experiment with an arbitrary national speed limit.
I have no surefire solution, but forewarned is forearmed.