Over the past few decades road safety has increased exponentially. This has been in no small part due to innovative companies dedicating resources to projects such as seat belts, airbags, crash testing, and even computerized driver monitoring. While many may tell you that the decreases in road fatalities are due to industry standards forced upon manufaturers by the federal government, many companies far exceed any set standards. You just have to look at a new Mercedes to see how safe cars have become. However, in the midst of an economic downturn that saw American automobile manufactures bailed out by the US government, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has furthered their asinine regulation. They have rejected Pagani’s request, nay, plea to sell their new Hauyra in the US. The simple reason is that it does not have smart airbags.
Now, if I would like, I could go to any of a large number of used car dealerships and buy a car without smart airbags. And really, I doubt Pagani expects to sell more than a hundred Hauyras in the US, given the over one-million dollar price tag. So, would our roads be noticeably less safe if the NHTSA had allowed the car into the US? Without a doubt, no. A Pagani owner doesn’t put nearly the average 12,000 miles per year on their car. The purpose of smart airbags are to sense when a child is in the front seat, and I hope that a Pagani owner won’t let a child in the same garage as their car for fear of getting kid dirt all over the car.
The NHTSA allows exceptions for companies that can show the installation of these airbags would cause financial distress. For a company that makes their cars in a shed in Italy, how would this not be distressful? Also, I wonder as to the additional weight added by these airbags. The first thing I would do if I had a Pagani is rip out everything I don’t need (with respect to weight distribution, of course).
Now, I could delve into a discussion on the merits of safety regulation. After all, I am a master of public health, and I really want to. But I won’t. I simply leave you with this question: Is this an automobile?
Or is it art?
At the very least, it is porn.