Tuesday, June 09, 2009
As long as the government is going to take over the car companies, they might as well make some meaningful changes in how cars are built. Come on people. Let’s see a real impact on the safety of our roads. Take control of the controls. Let me give you an example. I drive a Jeep. I love my Jeep. With an hour commute to work each day, my Jeep and I can practically read each other’s minds. And then I get in the Dodge pickup. Forgive me if I’m confused, but aren’t Jeeps and Dodges made by the same company? Why, then, are all of the controls bass-ackwards when I climb behind the wheel of the pickup? The windshield is spotted with mud, so I flip on the squirter thingy to clean them. Except instead of squirting the windshield, I am now signaling for a left turn. I flip the lever the other direction. Now I’m blinding oncoming traffic with my high beams. So I pull on the lever located by my left hand. That causes the steering wheel to flip up into a near-lateral position. (Why does it do that, anyway? If I’d wanted to drive around with the steering wheel flat, I would have stayed on the tractor, for crying out loud.) By the time I finally find the mechanism that controls the squirty thing, it really doesn’t matter whether I can see out of the windshield. I’ve already hit the ditch while I was too busy poking buttons to watch the road. And those are the simple controls. Forget trying to set the cruise control. I end up with the radio blaring some French language station out of Edmonton. If I want temperature moderation I’ll have to either pull over and drag out the owner’s manual or dress in layers. Therefore, I propose that Congress develop and implement a standard set of controls for all American made vehicles. The windshield wipers shall always be located on the right hand side of the steering wheel. To dim the headlights, you shall always pull back on the lever on the left hand side of the steering wheel. None of this pushing forward in random vehicles. And when you turn the middle button on the console counterclockwise, the air conditioning will always come on. I figure the government is in the ideal position to take charge of the Automobile Control Simplification Initiative. They now have the financial clout to tell the car makers what to do. And who better to whip our automobiles into shape than the people who brought us Medicare and the IRS? On second thought… Maybe I should just give you fair warning. I really want to go to Disney World. So someday, if you’re in Florida and you see a rental car blundering down the interstate with the windshield wipers flapping wildly, the left turn signal flashing, and Cuban music blaring through windows that are rolled down because the heater is blasting instead of the air conditioner, it isn’t necessarily a ditzy blue-haired retiree. Could just be me and my control issues.