A hippo on wheels is probably safer than a Cyber Truck

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note: this is a machine generated transcript and may not be completely accurate. This is provided for convience and should not be used for attribution.

Anthony: You’re listening to their auto be a law, the center for auto safety podcast with executive director, Michael Brooks, chief engineer, Fred Perkins, and hosted by me, Anthony Simonoff. For over 50 years, the center for auto safety has worked to make cars safer.

Fred: Good morning, gentlemen.

Anthony: Yeah. Hey, listeners. Today. Yeah. Hey. This is being we’re recording this on November 29th, but today it’s November 30th. This has been released along with the most ginormous announcement of all time. Boom boom. It’s big. Yep. If you go to our website right now, you’ll see the biggest thing ever.

Yeah, it’s a hippo on roller skates. And this is in celebration of Michael’s favorite car, the Cybertruck. Apparently, rumor has coming out today. And, we figure what can be as safe as 7, 000 pounds of stainless steel at hard angles? Then, a hippo on roller skates.

Michael: Yeah, I think the hippo is actually probably softer, maybe a little more, I don’t know.

It’s a little more friendly when it’s headed toward you. They the cyber trucks had that mean look to them. So maybe we missed their mark.

Anthony: They do. Maybe we should crash test the hippo on skates.

Michael: But put the hippo in armor.

Fred: Or we could just go put a dragon there. I think a dragon would

Anthony: work well.

Yeah anyway, so you can check out. We have a good little piece up on the site about the problem of weight in cars and because EVs keep getting heavier and heavier.

Michael: Yeah, and not even just TVs. Your average, American is buying a larger car and, electric vehicles promise some great things.

In smaller vehicles and sedans for the environment, but when you’re plunking a 2000, 3000 pound battery into a already too large body of a truck, then there are going to be inevitable consequences on the roads and crashes.

Anthony: SO we have a link to an article. If you are a subscriber to the Wall Street Journal, you can see an article about the challenge of Tesla’s stainless steel atrocity.

And basically stainless steel is fascinating. It’s comes in large rolling sheets and it. It’s really hard to shape because it will try to spring back to that shape. And, I guess I imagine the engineers at Tesla knew, Hey, this is not going to be easy, but Elon’s Hey, wait, look what we learned about stainless steel.

All this stuff we learned. Nobody, like the entire industry was well aware of how difficult it is to

Michael: read about it. The more you say, what the hell were they doing? This is a, it’s not only a nightmare to get the vehicles onto the road and in production, it seems if every nick, bump, scratch or scrape is going to create an, an ugly exterior on Cybertruck, which, if you’re driving a Cybertruck, you probably, already you’re very concerned about image.

You’re, that’s the kind of thing that’s going to freak those owners out. It just doesn’t seem a very well thought out plan.

Fred: You think? Apparently one of the design criteria was that it be bulletproof. Now, I’m not sure exactly why it’s important to have a bulletproof pickup truck, but, I guess it’s part of the whole survivalist thing.

Maybe there’ll be a lot of them up in Idaho.

Anthony: I don’t know, a bulletproof truck sounds like sprung from a man who possibly grew up on the wrong side of apartheid. But hey, that’s just my opinion. So from the article, they have a good little section here. Stainless steel is rarely used for vehicle bodies, in part because it is generally less malleable and more expensive than traditional materials.

It is also relatively heavy, particular in comparison to aluminum. Which some automakers have embraced in recent years to make cars and trucks lighter. Their goal is we’re gonna make, we’re gonna use a material that’s harder to use, incredibly expensive to repair, if at all repairable, and make it heavier.


Michael: why I’m really interested to see some of the crash testing that goes on those vehicles and the crash pulse and whether there is, the engine compartment doesn’t even have an engine, whatever is up there, all this stainless steel, whether it’s going to be able to be crushed.

Sufficiently to eliminate some of that force that’s transferred to the occupants and crashes. It just seems like such a Revolutionary I guess maybe a word for it. I don’t know if it’s a great word somewhere between revolutionary and stupid It’s such a new type of design that it’s a new type of stupid I just don’t know that Safe from that perspective.

It’s just something that’s never you know Aluminum makes sense when you’re trying to build a cabin, a compartment, a vehicle that has crushed spaces that reduce the transfer of force to the occupants. Stainless steel, not so much. So there’s going to be some really interesting numbers coming out of the crash testing on those trucks.


Fred: particular, the design guide behind this is that it can’t be formed in presses which means it’s very stiff very hard, and that suggests that when it hits another car, it’s going to bounce off, or the other car is going to bounce off, because the same kind of forces that are used to Press metal into shape are exactly the same kind of forces that are involved in a crash and the absorbing the energy from the crash.

So if it’s, if the material is not bendable at all, if it’s so stiff that you can’t bend it. How is it going to bend in a crash? It’s just, it’s very heavy. So maybe the whole idea behind this is that it will be invulnerable. It’ll be essentially a bulldozer and the other cars will just bounce right off of it.

I’m not sure how that’s going to work in a crash test, but it’s going to be interesting. And as we’ve talked about before, it’s going to be a nightmare to repair. You’re going to need special equipment. You’re going to need specially trained people. I invite people to buy it if they find that they’ve got way too much money in their 401k.

Anthony: With a new car like this, how does crash testing work? Do they have to have it crash tested before they sell it to the

Michael: public? No they should do some testing to be able to certify it to the federal motor vehicle safety standards, whether that’s an actual crash test or some sort of simulation that satisfies the company is one thing, but there is no government testing that’s going to take place before these things are sold.

ThAt’s the answer to the question. There’s, I’m interested to see, this is a high dollar vehicle. NHTSA and the Insurance Institute test a lot of vehicles, but they often do not test some of the more, extreme. Extremely priced vehicles, luxury vehicles and such, and vehicles that have, small model runs that aren’t going to reach a lot of consumers.

So I’m not sure if they’re going to end up testing it or not. You would, I can’t imagine that the DOT is putting in orders for Cybertrucks 4 years in advance and waiting it out just so they can have the opportunity to test it in NCAP, and I doubt the insurance institute is really interested in doing that either.

Who knows, if we’re going to see an actual public crash test of this thing before we see an actual public crash of them we’ll be watching, so

Anthony: not every car sold to the public is actually crash tested?

Michael: No. That’s insane. And NHTSA will publish a list of the vehicles they’re going to test that year.

But if you look, If you really wanted to test every different, model configuration, you’re looking at testing around, 1500 to 2000 vehicles. You don’t have to do every, no ta, no taxpayer wants to fund, right? But you can test, they’re always going to test some of the Honda Accords, some of the models that’s millions, but they’re not going to test, Bentleys and Rolls Royces and Ferraris and Lamborghinis and McLaren’s and all of these.

Different configurations that come out and, you have a Honda Accord, and then you have six other different models. I don’t even know the names, but it’s going to be LX, LE, all those kind of things. They just, since most of them are based on the same platform, they’re going to have some similar crash characteristics, and they’re trying to test, a certain subset of vehicles so that they can.

Give the consumers a good idea of the crash characteristics of vehicles, but I don’t think it’s possible for them, particularly the D. O. T. and also the insurance Institute. I just don’t think it’s possible for them to test. Every vehicle that comes out. I

Anthony: understand them not testing the difference between an LX and an EX and stuff like that.

But also, this should be something the auto manufacturers should be charged for. Hey, you want to put out a new model, a new design, everything like that? Okay, we have to crash test it, and you’re going to pay us, the government, for the privilege of crash testing your vehicle. That seems to make sense in my head.

Like, why do

Michael: the tax payers have to pay for that? At that point, you’re asking them, to give you the car, and there’s a blind shopping system that’s placing a cap, right? You can

Anthony: go ahead and blind shop it and just send them back an invoice saying, Send them a check, send them a bill. Yeah, here’s the bill this is what we’re charging, not only just for the cost of the vehicle itself, but here we’re charging for the time it set set up the…

The test itself for the crash results, charge them for the whole thing. I can’t, are drugs handled the same way? Or is the manufacturer just here we are, we’re free. This is a dumb example. Drugs. Oh, no.

Fred: Sad to say, actually, in some cases, drugs are done that way. Not every drug has to go through and not every medical device has to go through rigorous testing.

A lot of them are. Put on a market without any testing because they’re said to have a heritage from some other similar component that was tested. So you’ll find that if you parse that. They don’t even do that for drugs. They don’t even do that for medical devices. They’re, there’s no reason to expect them to be even as comprehensive as they are for drugs when they’re testing automobiles.

It’s just not the

Michael: way the governor works. And also, the NCAP program is just a, I say just, it’s a very important program, but it is a consumer information program. It has nothing to do with whether or not the vehicles can be sold. To consumers, it’s literally there to try to help consumers parse out, how vehicles performing crashes and a lot of other things.

So it has nothing. And, whether or not a vehicle can be sold is never contingent on how it performs in the end cap crash testing. Although, if you see a major failing in a crash test, sometimes it will go back under its enforcement authority and. Try to see what can be done about that. We’ve seen a number of vehicles that have had to go back to the drawing board after, significantly failing a crash test that suggests they might not be compliant with NHTSA regulations.


Anthony: don’t know. Listeners, tell us what you think. I think auto manufacturers, you come up with a new model, at least a new frame for your vehicle that’s a different approach. I think you should be paying the government to test these things. I

Michael: think there’s a good argument there. For revolutionarily stupid materials, that’s a good argument.

Anthony: Yeah, I think, yeah, anyway, so I’m curious. Let us know what you think. Considering continuing with these These dangerous vehicles, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has an article out on its site called Vehicles with higher, more vertical front ends pose greater risk to pedestrians.

That’s not something the cybercuck, cybertruck will have a problem with. The article starts off, Vehicles with especially tall front ends are most dangerous to pedestrians, but a blunt profile makes medium height vehicles deadly too, new research from IIHS shows. Smaller is better.

Michael: Yeah, lower is better in a lot of ways, because, the higher the blunt ends of these vehicles get, the closer they are to, your major organ centers and your brain, and what we most often see in pedestrian crashes with sedans are lower extremity injuries.

And if you combine some of the features like hood bonnets and other potentially protective features that vehicles could have with lower ends, I think you could see a pretty dramatic reduction in pedestrian deaths and injuries. Right now Americans are buying cars, 70 percent of the vehicles we buy are SUVs and trucks and they are.

only growing every year at this point, there is no, large scale movement by the industry to reduce the size and profile of those vehicles. And, frankly, it’s because that’s what we’re demanding. We, we are effectively buying vehicles that are increasing our risks of death and injury while when we’re pedestrians.

Anthony: Yeah, but we can stop that. We used to, we as the consumers used to be like, I want cars with tail fins on them and then regulations came out and said you can’t buy cars with tail fins on them because they’re weapons of mass destruction so we can we can have our behavior changed in a good way.

Go for it.

Michael: Move to Texas today.

Anthony: I’m feeling very optimistic today. Okay, so here’s a simple little question for you, Michael. So different cars different heights and whatnot. What is the required height for car bumpers?

Michael: There’s nothing required as far as exact profiles of vehicles and compatibility. There have been efforts over the years to try to do something like that, but it, at this point, manufacturers are essentially On their own, they can do whatever they want.

And if we’re, if we the collective we is trying to buy larger and larger vehicles, that’s what they’re going to sell us. There’s no question about that. And we’re seeing that all over the roads. And it’s. We’re hoping that something changes before we actually have, every family in America is driving a 7, 000 pound armored hippo.

But at this point, I don’t know. Every, my friends and neighbors are buying these cars and they’re justifying it in all sorts of ways. And I talked to him about it and there’s. thEre’s no arguing with some of that. You’re basically asking someone to either drive a, a Chevy Tahoe that’s really tall front end, but makes a guy feel like a man versus driving what I drive, a little sedan that, I don’t feel all that masculine in it, but it gets me from point A to point B.

Anthony: Oh, no, Fred, does your vehicle make you feel masculine? Your

Fred: Subaru? No, I’ve got a Subaru. It’s got a low front end on it. I feel like I’m very conservative that way, but I, maybe this is all a ploy by Caterpillar to sell more bulldozers because the industry seems to be headed more and more in that direction.

Anthony: There was a point, I think it was like in 2000, where Freightliner was talking about making it an SUV. Hey, that would have sold like hotcakes. Let’s jump on to more recent news, so a couple days ago, not that long ago, there was a crazy crash in Niagara Falls where everyone’s first reaction was like, let’s lock down the borders.

Is this some sort of terrorism? We don’t know. This was a car that went airborne and was aiming towards the U. S. border inspection. thing and there was a lot of at first, a lot of people had no idea what was going on. It was very scary. And then the next day they found out what kind of vehicle it was and we got an email from Michael Brooks saying it was a Bentley Flying Spur.

Huh, these vehicles have a sudden acceleration recall on them. And you realize, oh, when they actually see footage of this person, they made an evasive maneuver so like they were aware. They did not have a heart attack and pass out with their foot on the accelerator. They seemed to be conscious, and unfortunately it ended poorly from them.

Bentley, when asked about this, saying, Oh this vehicle was not recalled in the States. We had, it was only a problem in cars with vehicles on the right side, not opposed to the left side, because everything else in the car is designed differently when we do that. It was It’s interesting.

Michael: It was, the focus at first was very much, was this an act of terrorism and that sort of thing. But, because it looked like a bomb went off. We’ve talked about this in the context of what crash forces really look like. And we’ve talked about, the force. I’m not sure the exact numbers we were using.

Fred probably could tell you. But, the force of a grenade or the force of an explosion is what, some of these crashes look like. In this case, you’re talking about, a vehicle traveling 100 miles per hour that went airborne and landed and, was exploded at the border checkpoints.

And so at first they were suggesting that it was some kind of bomb, some type of terrorist incident. But, it as, as they investigate it, they, it looks like now they’re settling on some sort of mechanical error, which suggests that, yes, it’s a sudden acceleration issue. Now, these vehicles were recalled in Australia on the right hand drive models, and they were not recalled in the United States or in any other left hand drive countries.

I don’t know. I think there’s going to have to be a look into this by NHTSA and by, federal authorities to determine, is there, is the same problem that occurred in the vehicles that are recalled in Australia, potentially happening in vehicles that are imported to the United States as well.

But, it certainly seemed to me and still seems to me like an unattended acceleration event, because it’s just the nothing really matches up with, reckless driving scenario. It just doesn’t seem It doesn’t seem like that fits. So it could be a malfunction. It could, be a one off.

It could be something that happened in this specific car. Not some, problem that plagues Bentley, but we’ll have to wait for the investigators to do their job on that.

Fred: hOrsepower sells cars and it’s Bentley had an excess of 500 horsepower engine, and there is a hazard that the people don’t recognize when they buy a car.

With excess horsepower, you need about, maybe 20, 25 horsepower to drive down the road at reasonable speeds when you’re on the highway, and maybe a little bit more when you’re going up a hill. What happens when you actually get 500 horsepower delivered to your wheels? They start to spin, they make the car pivot, they make it rotate around its vertical axis because of gyroscopic forces.

A lot of things happen, and, if people who buy a car with 500 horsepower actually stomp on the accelerator enough to get 500 horsepower, um, it’ll either scare the hell out of them, or they’ll be in a world of hurt. This is a hazard that is very poorly recognized in business and certainly by consumers.

That’s a lot of power and it has its consequences.

Anthony: So this begs two questions. One, this is a vehicle that you could buy that goes like zero to sixty in like under five seconds. Why do you need that? And two, it begs the other question, what is horsepower?

Fred: Horsepower? 554 pounds per second. Everybody knows that.

Anthony: Ah, no, it doesn’t know that. And this is a fun one. I want to put a link to this in the description. There’s this a fun YouTube channel where these guys work on cars and they test things out. And one is, they. They looked into what is actually horsepower and we’re just gonna do a brief talk on this where basically horsepower is invented by James Watt and he used it as a gimmick to sell electric motors and get rid of people using draft horses to grind, to turn mills and whatnot and he just made it up and created this diagram that been used a hundred thousand times in all sorts of textbooks explaining horsepower, but no one, Ever actually checked on this work, they just

Michael: like a really familiar sales strategy that we’ve covered a lot, and that was not the

Fred: quibble, but, he was working with steam engines rather than electric engines.

So sorry, steam

Anthony: engine. Yeah, some distinction there, but either way, this is, it was just invented science used to sell a product and everyone said, okay, and went with YouTube video where these guys, they actually. Managed to get a horse connected to a dynometer and they measure what a horsepower is, and basically one horse equals 5.

7 horsepower. Which is just absurd. And they point out, I think, which is good to know, is the only time you ever hear the word horsepower. Is with cars. Like it’s a,

Michael: and is there a standardized horse they’re using? Is it a Shetland pony? Is it a Budweiser Clydesdale? Like

Anthony: they use the big draft horse.

Cause they were like, this is similar to what James Watt claimed he saw. And then he based his his horsepower off of but yeah, that’s it’s nonsense, but it’s a fun video. Check it out.

Michael: That sounds like a future TAL subject for Fred to take

Anthony: apart. In the past I asked Fred what exactly is horsepower, and I think he had a pretty good explanation.

But hey, nothing against Mr. Perkins here. I’m sure you went through the education system and you saw this diagram of this horse pulling something. You’re like it’s gotta be true, right? You’ve been lied to, man.

Fred: No, I just got to go with the numbers. 746 watts. Come on. Everybody knows that.

Anthony: Yeah, and what’s a watt, you ever think about that?

Fred: Speaking of watts there was a lot of things about Thanksgiving that were in the paper last week, and I missed it. I’m going to share this with all of you. In their local Berkshire Eagle, they interviewed all of the kids in two kindergarten classes about their plans for Thanksgiving.

Good. So I’m going to share some of them with you. Emma said, I would hunt for my turkey with my dad in the woods. I would look for a deer turkey. They’re the ones with the antlers. Just shove it in a target bag, then bring it home and put the turkey in a pan with meatballs for three degrees for one hour.

It would taste so yummy. That’s that’s Emmett’s take on it. That was the

Michael: opening. I like the turkey and meatballs idea, although one hour sounds a little underdone.

Anthony: At three degrees, too. I think this is the start of her obituary.

Fred: We do have a transportation tie in coming, but first we’ll go with Nicko, who said, I would go hunting for my turkey on Mount Greylock.

I would try to find a big, giant, blue turkey and try to scare the teachers in my class. This is clearly a kindred spirit for me. When I bring it home and weigh it, it will be 100 pounds. I would put a dress on it so it would look like a princess and people will think it is my sister, Gianna. I will stuff my turkey with a cake and then cook it hot degrees for a hundred minutes.

Then I will eat it with pizza.

Michael: These kids in Massachusetts have some incredibly creative minds. And diabetes.

Fred: It’s the cold weather that does that. Spend a lot of time indoors. And finally, with the transportation tie in, we’re going to… Quote Dana B., who said, You can buy a turkey from Whitney’s farm. You want to stuff it with sugar and avocados.

Stick it in the microwave for six minutes. On the side have some roadkill and blue raspberry cupcakes.

Anthony: I I think child protective services need to be called for all of these things.

Fred: I could go on, but but I think you get the spirit. This is a wonderful article. And if anybody’s interested, I’ll be happy to send you the link.

Just let us know. It goes on and on.

Anthony: Yeah, folks, if you want the link, just go to autosafety. org, click on Donate, and then realize, oh, you just have to email us at contactatautosafety. org and say, hey, send me Fred’s links, and then you’ll be put into a database that the FBI controls. No, but you can click on the Donate button and actually donate.

It’s, at the end of the year, it’s time for tax deductions. Everybody loves a little charitable donation. Except for used car dealers, because used car dealers keep selling cars with recalls associated with them. How was that for a transition? That

Michael: was fair. Yeah.

Anthony: Here’s an article in the Chicago Sun Times.

Under federal law, a rental car company can’t hand a customer the keys unless all safety recalls have been repaired. But there’s no such requirement for consumers buying a used car, which means what’s being touted as quote unquote certified pre owned car on a dealer’s lot could still be a vehicle that is open on addressed recalls for safety issues.

Like having a known fire risk or problem with sudden acceleration. How is this possible?

Michael: It’s the law. It’s the law. You can’t sell a new vehicle with recalls. That’s established. When you see a recall come out on vehicles that are still in dealer inventory, they’ll issue a stop sale warning to all of their dealers.

And you cannot sell these vehicles until the recall repair has been performed. With rental cars, if you are. A rental company and you’ve got, a hundred, your fleet is a hundred Ford focuses that were just put under recall. You can’t rent them out until you’ve gotten them all fixed.

And, that’s obviously problematic for rental companies that, you know. Or have a fleet where a lot of the vehicles aren’t able to be rented out at one point. And, but it protects consumers, right? We know for a fact that people have died in rental cars that were rented with recalls. The other problem is that, when you get to the used vehicle market, there’s no restrictions.

So CarMax. Auto nation, all of these large used car selling companies don’t have to do anything. Now to their credit, some of the legacy manufacturers, General Motors, and a lot of the automakers themselves where they sell used cars, they typically do repair vehicles with recalls before they’re willing to sell them on.

But, the data on that and the statistics aren’t really. Out there, it’s something that’s hard to put down. You’re basically taking their word for it that they’re doing it. But, thousands of recalled vehicles are sold every year and private sales. There are absolutely no restrictions.

Your local unaffiliated used car dealership. Is probably going to be selling vehicles with recalls on them, and it’s up to the consumer in most of these circumstances to look and to decide or go to the website, take the VIN number, look and see if there’s a recall on those on the vehicle.

You’re considering buying. eVen the federal government, the General Services Administration continues to sell vehicles that are still under recall, so on one hand, you have NHTSA who is saying these vehicles have to be repaired and then you have another arm of the federal government over here at the GSA selling these vehicles and auctions to the public.

So there is a lot of inconsistent enforcement around this issue. And, unfortunately it can result in tragic circumstances. If that Bentley that crashed in, in, in Buffalo or in Niagara had, been under recall and had it been repaired, that would be an example of what we’re talking about here.

Anthony: Wow. So for the consumers, it’s basically, we’re still living in those days of the used car salesman, like attaching the bumper with bubble gum type scenario. Not quite that bad, but if they can get away with this, the consumer is just left going okay, I have to go in there to the stressful situation of buying a car, negotiating with somebody with a lot of pomade in their hair.

And then I have to also think in mind, oh, I got to check the VIN number.

Michael: Yeah, and usually if you’re doing that, I’ll tell everyone listening to the podcast and to tell everyone they know that. The first thing you do in buying a used car is get the, whether it’s a Carfax report or some, one of the other services, but it should be included in that information.

So not only will you see, all the times that there has been a recall repair before on the car, you can see if there are any open recalls, you can see what other repairs took place. You can see if the car was in a crash. So you have to do that. If you’re buying a used car. Whatever the cost is minimal.

It’s 20 around 20 to get a full report. Most dealerships will get it to you for free to encourage you to buy the vehicle. That is the most important thing you can do when buying a used car. It’s just to make sure that there aren’t any underlying mechanical issues or problems, make sure it wasn’t a lemon at some point in its life.

Make sure that it wasn’t a salvage vehicle or has title issues. You can figure a lot of these things out from the vehicle history reports, and that’s something we highly encourage everyone to do. Alright,

Anthony: you heard it first, listeners. Check that out. Let’s jump into my my favorite subject, which, we gotta touch on because it’s gonna fade away on us.

Remember GM Cruise, folks? Okay, quick recap. Made a bad product, ran over a pedestrian, dragged them got rid of Kyle, the CEO, put in lawyers in charge of the company, and they re stopped doing all their autonomous vehicle drives around the entire country. California banned them and they’re like, we’re gonna stop this everywhere.

And then, a couple days after that, they’re like, hey, we’re gonna, we’re gonna come back, we’re gonna come back and do this and we’re gonna move forward. But then, just yesterday, General Motors said, hey, we’re gonna spend 10 billion dollars on a stock buyback plan. And some of that money, it’s coming from our autonomous car division.

Heh, and that’s GM Cruise. GM Cruise’s budget’s I don’t know, 2 billion bucks a year and I think that just I think that might have just evaporated. In order to make shareholders happy. So GM crews coming back, not coming back.

Michael: It’s not looking good for them. They’ve suspended the origin, which was their next generation shuttle type vehicle that they were continued to claim had been approved by the D O T when we still see no evidence of that.

And this is, look, this is what happens when you, you move too fast and you lie to the authorities that are there to protect the public and you continue to push technology when you, when it’s obvious there it’s immature and then it’s causing a lot of problems on the streets where they’re going to be inevitable safety consequences.

What this leaves is, Cruz saying it’s going to operate just it’s. Bolt, Chevy Bolt based vehicles, little sedans, and one city we’re still not sure what city that is. We’ve got a pool going. I think it’s Austin. I think it’s Phoenix. But we’ll see what happens

Anthony: there. Yeah.

Listeners, let us know what city do you think is going to be dumb enough brave enough intrepid enough. I think

Fred: it’s Shangri La. That’s where I expect to find them.

Anthony: Ah, Shangri La, this is great. Fred’s having a Woodstock flashback right now.

Fred: Oh no, it’s not Woodstock. It’s, it’s unicorns and rainbows and, 94 percent reduction in fatalities.

And it’s all available in Shangri

Anthony: La. Alright GM Cruise, if you like Fred Perkins resume, just send him a note, and he’ll send it right over. He’s ready to run that company. Speaking of fun technology, this is actually good technology, and I’m a little confused about this. So we’ve talked about this in the past, V2V, which is vehicle to vehicle communication, which was this short range radio system where basically I’m driving my car, and my car is gonna talk to the car in front of me, behind me, around me, so we can go, Hey, this…

Jackass slam on the brakes and my car can be like prepared to react to that and do something like that. So we’re all safe and whatnot. And we’ve talked about this where NHTSA had this proposed rule and they were going to give some bandwidth and then a cell phone company like, no, we won’t use that.

And, uh, long story short is NHTSA has they’re withdrawing this proposed rule. We’re saying, Hey, this is a really good idea. We’re It’s scrapping this proposal because of newer technology such as cellular vehicle to everything? Is this… Is this just a technical decline of this? Is something different and better?

Oh my god, they’re laughing at me. If you people could see this, for our premium subscribers, I’m looking at two gentlemen just looking at me going, You’re so dumb.

Fred: Oh hey, Anthony, here’s a simple question for you, Anthony. What’s more important, saving the lives of motorists or Wi Fi?

Anthony: Who’s Wi Fi? My Wi Fi is more

Fred: important.

Not your Wi Fi because your Wi Fi works perfectly fine. It’s somebody else’s Wi Fi.

Anthony: Hey, I, look, I haven’t been using my neighbor’s Wi Fi for weeks. I don’t know what they’ve been telling you. This is not true. Is it really this simple? It is

Fred: really that simple. That’s the trade that the FCC made. They took away the bandwidth that was dedicated to traffic safety and they gave it to the Wi Fi industry.

Anthony: That’s it. Okay, so is this cellular vehicle to vehicle, does this, is this a good replacement for this idea? It’s Pitsbad.

Fred: It is Pitsbad. I’ve explained Pitsbad before, haven’t I? Pitsbad? Pitsbad. Pie in the sky, bye and bye. Oh, no. So this cellular V2V technology is a great example of PITSBAB. In the future, everything will be better, so there’s no reason to address our current needs.

That’s basically what the FCC’s position is. That’s

Anthony: what my wife and I say in marriage counseling. Yeah,

Fred: It works in certain contexts.

Anthony: It doesn’t. So why is this not good? Because all modern cars all have cellular systems built into them. So hey, this is just using that.

Fred: We’ve discussed it a little bit before, but I want to remind readers what happened.

The industry was ready to start putting V2V technology into its vehicles. VTV is vehicle to vehicle, and that would enable vehicles to benefit from other vehicles experience and sensors and just having knowledge of where other vehicles are located and their trajectories. The FCC, knowing that in the future, they wanted to corrupt this, refused to license.

The V2V applications and the V2X applications particularly in Georgia, where they were making a big push towards infrastructure communication between vehicles, the FCC refused to license them. And then since there were no licenses extant, the FCC said people aren’t using this bandwidth, so it’s free and we’ll give it to the cellular industry.

It’s about the most cynical thing I’ve ever heard of from the government, but that’s what happened. And then Ajit Pai, who. suRprisingly came from the telecommunications industry before he was in the as the chairman of the FCC used that logic to say nobody’s using this bandwidth. So we’re going to give it to somebody else who can use it.

That’s what happened.

Michael: Yeah, and I would add, you can go back to, I believe it was one of our first few episodes where we discussed this, and I use the term big phone a lot because, the new tech that they’re promising is based on LTE, cellular LTE technology, which is owned by, who knows?

Out there, but someone owns it and wants to monetize it, and they have a lot of sway with the FCC. That’s what’s ultimately going to happen. It looks like we’re going to have V2V and V2X systems that are based on that tech when it gets here. The problem was that Wi Fi was ready to go. Toyota and GM were already putting it into vehicles.

And what we’re talking about here is something that’s going to take 25 years or so to get into the fleet or to penetrate the United States fleet enough to where we’re starting to see the real safety benefits accrue. So at this point, we’ve essentially Thrown away the first 15 to 20 years of development of this stuff are still trying to get the CV2X, the LTE type systems into place where they can be put into cars.

And so we’ve fortunately extended the. The period from, say 23, 25 years to at least probably 50 years from the time this was started, until we see sufficient penetration of fleet for safety problems to be rectified with V two V and V two X. So it’s a shame really that the technology we have wasn’t being put into vehicles to start to fix this problem.

And that the FCC played such a. A downer of a role in the whole

Anthony: thing. Listeners technology won’t save you. Pay attention on the road. Don’t stare at your phone. Don’t text and drive. And with that, let’s go into the Tower of Fred if Mr. Perkins is ready for it. Is he ready? I am ready.

Ooh, get a big thumbs up. Today’s episode is brought to you by Geritol. If you have tired No, sorry, wait. Today’s episode today’s section is Duty of Care vs. Absence of Unreasonable Risk. You’ve now entered

Fred: the Tao of Threat. I’m inevitably treading on Michael’s turf here, but And you’re gonna have to back me up on this, Michael.

But There’s a lot of discussion about what safe actually means, and in particular for autonomous vehicles. How do we know if a vehicle is safe enough? Industry is coming up with standards and industry consensus documents that talk about that. One of the concepts that they talk about is the… In ISO, International Standards Organization, ISO 26262, and it’s the, called the absence of unreasonable risk.

So this is what’s defined as, as safe if it’s absent of unreasonable risk. This is about as squishy a concept as you can imagine. What does it really mean? What does risk mean? It’s a combination of the probability of occurrence and the severity of the harm. What’s reasonable?

What’s unreasonable? What’s acceptable? What’s unacceptable? How do you establish what it is? Basically, if you were to say the standard for safety is an absence of unreasonable risk, what you’re really doing is just throwing the whole problem out of your industry and out of your development environment and into the legal world to say, how is this going to be settled?

Michael: Lawyers inevitably have to interpret what reasonable is, right? That’s the engineering standard. So trust in the lawyers, you shouldn’t.

Fred: So who does this serve? This doesn’t serve the consumer’s interest. This serves the developer’s interest because it kicks that can down the road for probably a really long time.

We’re seeing Tesla use this defense essentially in a lot of the liability cases that are being addressed by them. tHere’s another concept out there called positive risk balance. Now, this is a little bit better. This is something that was developed on Europe to define what is, what is an acceptable way to go.

And the positive risk balance says that Basically, you quantitatively determine that the connected automated vehicles decrease, or at least do not increase, the amount of physical harm incurred by users of those vehicles or other road users that are interacting with them. The connected vehicles, so this is quantitative and puts the burden of validation on the developers to say, all right, is this are you safer than the alternative?

Are you safer than the conventional conventionally driven vehicles that are out there? Or, where does this go? But it’s an improvement because at least it says there’s a quantitative basis for determining whether or not the car is safe enough to drive on the road. Thank you. This puts less of a burden on consumers and more on the developers, but it still doesn’t solve the problem of saying, if I’m injured, how do I get compensated?

Because it’s suggested in every case, you would have to go into court once again and go through the whole process of saying essentially product liability that this vehicle. Is hazard because it’s more hazardous than a conventional vehicle.

Michael: That’s the standard for recalls.

It’s, a reasonable risk to safety. So it has to be essentially determined. We’re seeing that pan out right now. You’re watching the ARC airbag situation, is where there’s a huge determination going on of whether, a number of airbag ruptures under 10 across 50 million airbags is an actual unreasonable risk to safety and there’s.

Going to be a giant legal discussion about that, I’m sure, in the near future when NHTSA orders AHRQ to recall them and ARC says no and goes to court.

Fred: And however that works out, there’s a long duration between the event that triggered the discussion and the resolution of the discussion. And long meaning maybe 10 or 15 years.

Who knows how long it’ll take to work that through. So if you happen to be injured… As a result of that, you are at the tail end of that whole discussion before you can get any compensation. So there’s another way to go, which is to use what’s called the definition of duty of care. A duty of care is a concept that’s used in tort law, and it’s accepted by all 50 states.

Apparently, Michael, and you check me on this, it’s accepted by all 50 states that a licensed driver has a duty of care. Now, what this enables is the use of insurance to say, okay, we have a standard throughout the country that you have a duty of care. So the laws will respond to that duty of care. And if you run a stop sign, we don’t have to address your motivation.

We only addressed the result. You ran the damn stop sign and you killed somebody. So there’s a body of law that’s set up to say because you had a duty of care and you did this thing that’s been well established to be a hazardous event. You are responsible and therefore the insurance can kick in. A lot of things can happen.

So those lot of things that can happen are all good to the benefit to the benefit of the I should say in your, it doesn’t matter, but anyway, they’re all to the benefit of the injured party because that definition of duty of care exists. Now, what our friend Phil Kopman is advocating is that this should.

Duty of care should be accepted by all 50 states and at the federal level as part of a system that says there’s a computer driver in these autonomous vehicles, because after all, there’s no human driver, right? Something’s driving the vehicle. So there’s an entity called a computer driver that’s driving these vehicles, and that computer driver has a definition or has a duty of care.

In response to traffic accidents, so the computer driver would then be treated as the absolute equivalent of a human driver to me makes this. This makes obvious sense, and it obviates the problem of figuring out what is reasonable risk. What’s unreasonable risk? Because law could then revert to what’s known for any of the driver, the computer driver.

Has to do the same thing as you when you’re behind the wheel. Has to perform the same way. Has to respond the same way legally. But

Anthony: we have consequences when we break the law. I can have my license revoked. I can go to jail if I vehicular manslaughter. Oh, sure. Happens when my

Fred: computer… But if there’s a computer driver defined for a vehicle, that too can be sanctioned.

That too can

Anthony: be… What I can have my freedom taken away and be locked up. Can I have,

Michael: They’re not sanctioning the computer itself. They’re sanctioning the manufacturer, the automaker, the software designer. Yeah, but that’s

Anthony: an abstract, that’s an abstraction. That’s no individuals.


Michael: it’s abstract until you get a judgment against, that manufacturer, then they have to pay it just like another human. Free will is an abstraction.

Fred: Free will is an abstraction too, Anthony. And there’s a presumption of free will behind the duty of care. So yes, I don’t know how far you want to get on that road.

But the point is that it clarifies responsibility in a meaningful way, in a practical way. Whereas the absence of unreasonable risk does not absence of unreasonable risk diffuses the responsibility and the whole logic behind what is safe enough, right? So it’s

Michael: an important distinction to answer, it’s really difficult to answer what.

Something that, we’ve looked at in the context of autonomous vehicles getting exemptions, and how do you prove that a, an automated system is safe enough before you actually put it out on the road, and it’s a mind boggling question but in this case, at least legally, there could be an answer when, even when we’re still exploring what that means, what is safe enough.

Anthony: Okay, so Michael, I got a quiz question for you. So you’re a graduate of a law school, right? Yes. Okay, and Fred was talking about tort law established this duty of care. Name the case. Oh, I don’t know. Oh, 1916 McPherson vs. Buick, come on. Really? Yeah.

Michael: You’ve got a quick Google finger. Oh, Anthony, you’re so proud of yourself.

I like to see that. In my

Anthony: spare time, I spent a lot of time with tort

Michael: law. I spent a lot of time in my tort class learning about the The duty of care of the United States toward wounded or injured soldiers, the federal tort claims act. We, for some reason that swamped my first year of tort law and we’ve never quite covered the full scope of duty of care as it applies to corporations, but I’ve learned a lot about that since.

All right, but before we go

Fred: too far down that rabbit hole, I want to say, why is this important? Let’s look at the experience of the cruise autonomous vehicles in California. Now, we know that for conventionally driven vehicles, a defect in the vehicle is responsible for a serious injury of the order of once every 500 million miles, roughly.

That’s based upon NHTSA information and a projection of um, serious injuries versus deaths recorded for those things, okay? Now, if we look at the AI experience in San Francisco AIs are demonstrably 400 times more hazardous than conventionally driven vehicles if you only count incidents in San Francisco that required victim hospitalization.

Okay, there have been several of those. We know that they’ve gone a million miles or so, so you’re up to 400 times more hazardous, yet because The standard for safety has not been established, and because there is no duty of care with these vehicles, the people who are injured are still in limbo.

They’ve not been covered, as far as we know, under any insurance policy. They’ve not been compensated by GM. So they’re just hanging in the wind. Um, and you look back at those, and You come to the conclusion that if you count all the reported incidents that include imminent threats or obstruction of traffic when somebody had to intervene or something bad happened, there’s something like 60 of those events, and that the jeopardy that’s offered by these autonomous vehicles is about 60 times The hazard associated with the serious injuries are roughly 24, 000 times worse than conventionally driven vehicles.

Anthony: You’ve convinced me Kyle should not have a driver’s license.

Fred: Kyle’s probably contemplating these numbers right now as he’s developing his resume. So good for him. Hopefully he can listen to this and that’ll be in there and then, and he can, he can claim that he was only 1 24, 000th of the problem, maybe, I don’t know.

That’s a good one. I’m not sure how I could do that. But anyway, that’s, that’s a topic that is a little bit obscure, yet it’s actually pivotal and central to this whole debate about autonomous vehicles and whether or not they’ll ever be safe enough to be operated on public highways. There’s a big hurdle.

And in my opinion, Michael, and check me on this, in my opinion, unless and until. There is a duty of care associated with the vehicles and whatever logic is driving those vehicles. It’s going to be extremely difficult for anybody who’s injured by these vehicles to get compensated because every one of those injuries is going to end up in court for a liability to prove liability.

Very difficult, very hard to do, or even worse, they’ll end up in arbitration with company. Forced arbitration, which is written into the agreements, the user agreements for a lot of these autonomous vehicles, as well as for the Tesla’s that you just

Michael: dropped 60, 000 on. We’re already seeing this problem play out in the Tesla cases where the computer driver is not being held to account in a lot of situations where it should

Anthony: be.

That’s not the case we have a link to in Ars Technica, where a Florida judge has ruled that there’s reasonable evidence to conclude that Tesla and its CEO, Elon Musk, knew of defects in its autopilot systems and failed to fix them. Testimony from Tesla engineers and internal documents show that Musk was intimately involved, I don’t know what that means, in Tesla’s autopilot program, and acutely aware of a sometimes…

fatal defect where autopilot repeatedly fails to detect cross traffic.

Michael: This is a

Fred: product liability suit, as we were discussing, okay? And the person who was killed was beheaded as his car went underneath a tractor trailer that was crossing the road. His aggrieved wife, his spouse, is suing for damages.

She’s had to marshal probably half a million dollars worth of… Help from legal profession, from expert witnesses, from everybody associated with a product liability case and not to mention the discovery that’s taking place far away. And Texas or California or wherever the records are located for Tesla and spending, several years already.

It’ll be several more years for this to settle out. Then there’ll be appeals. This points out even despite the judge’s ruling. In favor of the plaintiff, this points out exactly why we need to work towards a duty of care or something equivalent to that to be associated with the autonomous vehicles and autonomous technology, including the technology that’s built into my car, my humble Subaru for automatic steering, lane keeping assist, and, just the kind of Automated driver assistance systems that are built into virtually every car that’s on the road today.

There’s no establishment of whether or not those are computer drivers or whether or not those features include a duty of care.

Michael: And it’s a gray area. If your lane keeping assist for whatever reason brings you back into the path of a vehicle and you have a crash. The company is going to be saying it was your fault.

And how are you going to go on and prove that the lane keeping assist caused the problem? It’s going to be a lot of legal work and heavy lifting on your side to try to prove that point. Unless there is an established duty of care for a computer or,

Fred: So this is part of the reason why reliance on industry standards by the government is a really bad idea because these industry standards are developed basically by engineers. They were paid by companies to participate in these nonprofit organizations like the ISO, like the SAE, to come up with standards like the 26262, which includes this absence of unreasonable risk definition, to develop standards like the SAE J3016, which includes the unacceptable definition of minimal risk condition as default safe standards for the operation of these vehicles.

Governments need to look really carefully at this before they adopt those standards as well as, the consumers who’ve, really are left out of this whole conversation. It’s there’s just a tragic chasm here that, um, the automated vehicle industry is hurtling towards and bring us all along with it.

Anthony: It number, one of the top five reasons to donate to the Center for Auto Safety. We’re actually pointing out this issue and putting a spotlight on these things. So stay tuned. This is a long term issue that we’ll keep highlighting and bringing up. And maybe one of these days, one of these engineers on these things will sit there and go wait a second.

I’m fully vested in my stock. This is a bad idea. Let’s make things safer for people. Oh, you’re going to fire me? I retire. Ha! But hey and maybe that person will retire and we’ll donate to the Center for Auto Safety. Come on! Oh no, there’s a good

Fred: segue, I like that.

Anthony: Yeah, that was pretty good.

Beautiful. Alright let’s jump into the recall roundup. We’ve got a, just a couple today. And we’re gonna start off with Honda. A rare entry into the Recall Roundup, 303, 000 plus vehicles, this is a Honda Accords and Honda HR V, don’t know what an HR V is but the front seat belt pre tensioners were assembled without a rivet securing the quick connector and wire plate something that Sounds to me, again, like Friday afternoon problem.

Yeah, cause, this is a weird one.

Michael: I don’t know, it’s Friday afternoon, but it’s 303, 000 vehicles.

Anthony: That was a long

Michael: Friday. Really long Friday. I would guess that it’s definitely not Friday. And maybe a missing part that wasn’t provided to their assembly plants. I’m not sure, but basically it prevents your seatbelt pretensioner in the front from doing anything in a crash to make sure that your seatbelt remains tight around your body and protective.

Anthony: Yeah dealer notification is scheduled to begin on or about November 22nd. Owners should be notified beginning of January. And again, this is a free fix. If you’ve already paid to have this fixed you can get your money back. You can get reimbursed for that. So please get this fixed. Our next recall wait.

That’s, no, that’s just more of the same. Wait, what’s our second recall, man? Did you send me two of the same ones? You…

Michael: Oh, look at that, I sent you

Anthony: two of the same ones. Two of the same ones. This was a… That’s why I can’t read the second recall, cause he sent me the wrong link. Unless you can do it off the top of your head, Michael.

Do you remember the Ford GM and Chrysler all ordered these parts? That’s the note associated with it.

Michael: Yes, there was, I believe this was also related to pretentious, but I’m not sure. We’re

Anthony: going to skip that one. I’ll come back to it in a sec here. Then let’s end on a, on an interesting note.

So Toyota in the UK we’re running these typical truck ads, the ads where your truck is climbing up a mountain, going through rivers, being tough and manly, instead of doing what. Truck owners really do is just, take the kids to soccer practice, get some groceries, and go buy a pack of smokes. The United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority has banned two Toyota Helix advertisements claiming they lack a, quote, a sense of responsibility to society.

This is amazing. Look, I love this line. They’ve been banned because they lack a sense of responsibility to society. How many car ads would there be in the U. S. if this was a standard? So this ad has them going through a river, up a mountain, and then onto a paved road. And isn’t that what all truck ads are?

They’re going through mud and you’re drinking beer.

Michael: Yeah, a lot of them are, you’ll generally see almost all those ads on closed courses and by closed course, sometimes it’s out in the middle of nowhere, salt flats out in the desert, that type of situation, but and we’ve also seen, and I think we’ve covered this before in the UK where they, they will step in and say, hey, you’re we’re showing ads to people that shows your cars driving too fast or shows aggressive driving or shows distracted driving.

That’s not a safe message. Get it off the television. And the thing about the UK is they don’t have a first amendment so they can tell people to do that in America. Now that, corporations supposedly have the same right to speech that a lot of us do as individuals, you can’t tell them to take that kind of thing down.

They have a, literally have a First Amendment right to keep some of that stuff on TV. If it’s not obscene, if it would really have to violate standards of some sort and not safety standards, that’s the last thing they’re concerned about before you could force someone to take an ad

Anthony: down.

I don’t know, I think having a truck taken out into the middle of a wilderness and bringing a big screen TV with you that’s fairly obscene.

Michael: iT’s seen under one definition, but not the constitutionally accepted definition.

Anthony: All right, fine, Justice Porter. I see how it is.

Michael: But yeah it’s, it’s and we continually hear from consumers over the years.

And, we about these ads that are just continually showing bad behavior behind the wheel. Almost every manufacturer puts them out. Even in this, you could probably even find a Subaru commercial where they’re all about love and driving unsafely.

Anthony: They’re wearing Birkenstocks and black

Michael: socks.

Yeah, so it’s just an accepted norm that car commercials are going to show vehicles performing in ways that you should never use them on the street. And that’s how they sell them. And then we wonder why we have so many speeding and reckless driving deaths.

Anthony: And with that, let’s wrap up the show with a note from Mr.

Perkins here, who’s, chomping at the bit to get to another child’s letter to his local newspaper. This is from

Fred: Sawyer Z. He says, so go to the farm and kill a turkey. Put some bacon inside it. That’s my favorite. Then put it on the stove at 100 degrees for 100 minutes. With the turkey, I like sugar, candy, gummy worms, gummy bears, and purple gummies.

And snacks. Perfect way to go for

Michael: Thanksgiving, folks. It is. And these kids really love their salmonella.

Anthony: Yeah, and what kind of gummies are these kids taking? Yeah, man, like I want a turkey with bacon in it. And a birthday cake. And a birthday cake in it. And

Michael: meatballs and pizza. I

Fred: can’t wait to see what they think about Christmas.

Anthony: Listen to this song, man. This song is really good. It’s our outro music. Alright, thanks listeners.

Fred: Thank you, bye

Michael: bye. Thanks everybody.

Fred: For more information, visit www. autosafety. org.


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