"I'm alright jack": the ethos of car safety features

For a while in the 60s some carmakers were favouring doors hinged at the rear. Among their reasons for abandoning this door design, was the problem of people being crushed by their own door when they hastily opened it in the path of a close passing vehicle. This problem earned the rear hinged door a particular name: the “suicide door”.

True to form, the automotive industry settled upon the “murder door” as their preferred norm. They had already combatted the problem of crashes with seat belts, instead of small motors and very low gearing, so it should come as no surprise that cyclists’ safety would have no baring at all. What mattered, was their own customers’ blitheness, that they aught to be free to enjoy, no matter how it might impact others.
Missile engines, murder doors, “I’m alright jack” seat belts and airbags, crumple zones that are nonetheless harder than any pedestrian: all are tolerated¬†with the same breezy acceptance that we extend to babies with handguns. It’s just bad luck if somebody dies.

1 Comment

  1. Luke says:

    There’s a book called “Risk” by John Adams, in which he argues that compulsory seat belts made no real difference to motorist deaths – yes, they declined in the years after compulsion, but they declined in the years before as well. Deaths of cyclists and pedestrians went up…

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