COTD: How Do You Regulate The Unsafe Edition

Care to dip your toes into America's twisted, over-litigated journey of automotive safety regulation for a moment?


The Federal Motor Vehical Safety Standard #208 (FMVSS 208 for short) governs how vehicles have to protect their occupants in a crash with seatbelts and airbags. Those airbags have to be tested, however, for both belted and unbelted occupants. It is just one instance where cars have to be designed for people who are intentionally driving in an unsafe manner. It makes sense, but you can't shake the feeling that it's also a little insane.

While we were talking about the uncertainty of a correlation between accidents and lane-departure warning systems, we got an excellent discussion about the automotive implications of the required long hours spent in hospitals.

It was a fascinating talk about cars designed for those who will misuse them by driving while extremely tired. If I have to pick two comments they would be Peowraaku's account of who actually bought this lane departure feature and eatadonut who replied. TheEdBoogie also added some excellent context from a resident's point of view, and you really should just recognize the whole thread.

i know a heart surgeon that bought a mercedes specifically for this feature. apparently falling asleep at the wheel after working long hours is a big problem for him. don't we have laws to prevent truck drivers from working long hours? would this guy make the news if he fell asleep in the operating room?

He should have bought a Honda and spent the extra cash (of which he has plenty) to call a fucking cab. How is that any different from me buying a Volvo so I can get blind drunk and trust my car to get me home?

Do you think it's irresponsible for surgeons to buy lane-departure-warning cars knowing they'll drift off at the wheel?



Isn't that Federal Motor Vehical Safety Standard #208 (FMVSS 208 for short) one of the reasons it's expensive for non-American manufacturers to introduce vehicles in the US? As far as I know in Europe a car only needs to be safe for people wearing their seatbelt and little kids in special seats. Don't wear your seatbelt? It's your own responsibility. As it should. Because of the American FMVSS manufacturers need to redesign their vehicle, which costs a lot. This, obviously, is only one example.