American automakers are fed up with trying to save drivers from themselves. Calling it futile to try to prevent death or injury during the use of their products because “there will always be crazies and criminals intent on harming others,” they are going to strip out extraneous safety features, such as seat belts, airbags, and anti-lock braking systems.
Ford, GMC, Chrysler/Dodge, and other US car makers say they’re taking a cue from firearms manufacturers. “We have a moral imperative to admit that some people will simply drive recklessly or maliciously, and there’s no way we as mere manufacturers of a product can stop them,” says Bruno Krustayshin, head of automotive industry lobby group America’s Courteous Carmakers Endorsing Sensibility and Sustainability, or, ACCESS. “We will not be held culpable for the negligent use or even the proper use of our products anymore! Cars and trucks are designed to move, they are designed to convey people or cargo—nothing more, nothing less.”
Government-mandated safety features lull people into a lack of personal responsibility, argue the car makers. “It’s only by feeling threatened that we begin to behave responsibly,” says Krustayshin. “With the new single-wall, highly vulnerable fuel tanks we’re installing in 2016 models, you’ll be sitting on a pile of dynamite, and every other driver has a match. In fact, just bumping the curb while parallel parking could set those things off. Kaboom!” The result of this potential for mutual destruction will be greater security.
“We’ve looked closely at research done by the gun industry, especially the work of economist John Lott,” says Marjorie Blaymliss, a researcher affiliated with ACCESS. Lott became famous for his book More Guns, Less Crime, which claimed that when more citizens carry concealed weapons, crime rates fall. “Though some have criticized Lott, we find it significant that no one has yet shot him. That kind of proves his thesis, no?”
George W. Lacuna, a former student of Ralph Nader, saw merit in this new approach to auto safety. “I’ve long argued that cars are basically weapons,” he said. “That’s why I always take the bus. And you know, for any safety improvement we’ve ever suggested, the car makers have found a way to cheat and lie about it. At least this takes their dishonesty off the table and shows people what they really are.”
We also called economist Lott for comment. He said he was delighted to see his work having an influence beyond the gun debate. But he also saw some ways to improve the new initiative. “They’ve got a good start, but they could go further. What if, and I’m just brainstorming here, but what if cars had like big shotguns mounted on the dashboard? You know, bang! Bang! That would make everyone watch their Ps and Qs. Or maybe flamethrowers or or little rocket-propelled grenade launchers. Would that be too expensive?”
Krustayshin says ACCESS is actively studying the question of whether adding offensive capability to cars would further improve safety. “We’re really trying to open up the design possibilities. One promising possibility is a military-grade water cannon mounted to the roof and controlled remotely by the driver.”
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