Auto Safety

Personal responsibility, a traditional value in America.

In his weekly WSJ column on 3/17/09, Joe White looked at the global car market. An example is the Ford Focus, a compact popular in Europe and also sold in the U.S.. “Next year, Ford will launch a new Focus in the U.S. that will have 80% of its parts in common with the European version.” Why not 100%, I thought. Oh yeh, I reminded myself, they have to put the steering wheel on a different side of the car over in Europe.

Silly me. Here’s the most expensive item on the list. “U.S. government crash standards … require car makers to take into consideration the potential harm to passengers who aren’t wearing seat belts.” Europeans, on the other hand, expects a driver to act responsibly. This and other minor differences like bumpers and mirror size add up to “hundreds of dollars a car”.

All 49 states except New Hampshire have seat belt laws. Jennifer Levitz, in a 3/18/09 WSJ article, tells us that protesters gathered last week in Concord, N.H. to voice their opposition to a proposed seat belt law in that state. One protestor said that “the state is moving toward, basically, communism.”

New Hampshire passes up $3.7 million in federal money if they don’t institute a law by July of this year. In 2007, “70% of those who died in traffic accidents in the state weren’t wearing seat belts.”

One protestor wears a seat belt now, but swears to stop wearing it if the law is passed. Representative Jordan Ulery, an opponent of the bill, said “New Hampshire is a sovereign state; we can do as we damn well please.”

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