Idiot Proofing

Writer Ron Burns has been attributed with the quote: “You can’t make anything idiot proof because idiots are so ingenious.” This has been proven many times, but attempts at idiot proofing continue and a couple of the latest ones will just be more proof of the validity of the quote.

The first is the idea of putting backup cameras on all new vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says this would cost from $1.9 to $2.4 billion dollars and it might reduce back-over deaths and injuries by almost half. Considering that there are an average of 292 people killed each year in back-over accidents, this comes to a cost of over $7 million per death that might be prevented with no guarantee it will stop even one idiot from backing up without looking.

In comparison, there were 11,769 deaths due to drunk driving in 2009, and there is no regulation mandating ignition interlock breathalyzer systems or similar devices on vehicles. It makes one wonder which lobby is wielding the power to influence the Safety Administration so strongly.

Another idiot proofing idea on the drawing board also pertains to vehicles. The Transportation Department is interested in the latest technology that disables cell phones in vehicles and believes it, too, will be mandated for new vehicles in the future. It is certainly dangerous to drive while talking or texting on a cell phone and there are laws against it, but stopping all cell phones from functioning in a vehicle is an idiot proofing measure. Not only does it stop other passengers from safely using cell phones, it could also hamper emergency calls that may become necessary.

Along with reading, writing, arithmetic and science skills, it seems our society is also lacking driving skills. However, idiot proofing is not going to reduce the number of idiots getting behind the wheel and causing danger on our roads. Every commute to and from work proves there are too many idiots on the road and they are, indeed, very ingenious at remaining idiots.

David J. Hentosh

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