Re: [SystemSafety] New Yorker article...

From: John Downer < >
Date: Wed, 29 Jul 2015 17:13:43 -0400


I don’t disagree. (Especially given that anyone pressing the accelerator instead of the brake probably isn’t a driving prodigy to begin with.)

I think the wider points of the article still stand though. (That we have a tendency to think about accidents emotionally rather than in terms of numbers. / That there is a sort of ‘engineering mindset’. / etc.)

Mostly I just thought it was interesting to see the Pinto story told from Ford’s perspective.

J.



Dr. John Downer
Global Insecurities Centre.
School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies (SPAIS). University of Bristol (UK)

> On Jul 29, 2015, at 4:47 PM, Mike Ellims <michael.ellims_at_xxxxxx >
> There is one obvious flaw in the argument presented, it is stated that; “Cars are engineered to be tolerant of pedal error: the driver who depresses the accelerator, thinking it’s the brake, still has the option of simply putting the car in neutral or turning it off. (That’s one of the reasons that cars have gearshifts and ignition switches.)”
>
> Which is true but irrelevant. For the average person stopping a car by putting it into neutral or by turning the ignition off isn’t part of their normal experience nor part of any planned or practiced set of responses to emergencies (if there are any). Therefore the vast majority of people (90%)( won’t be able to cognate a solution involving either response in an emergency thus for the typical person neither is actually a viable option.
>
> If I remember correctly after the Lexus crash involving a CHiP officer Toyota did an internal survey and found that 30% of their own employees had no idea what neutral was. The engineering mistake here is assuming that the ordinary driver has the same internal model of how a car works as the engineer, which is incorrect. For the average driver the options available are usually limited to steer or brake.
>
> Cheers.
>
> Sent: 29 July 2015 19:25
> To: systemsafety_at_xxxxxx > Subject: [SystemSafety] New Yorker article...
>
> I haven’t been keeping up with list discussions as religiously as I should, so I apologize if someone has posted this before, but I came across this article and it struck me as something that people might appreciate:
>
> http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/05/04/the-engineers-lament <http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/05/04/the-engineers-lament>
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> It’s about the star-crossed Pinto, and made me think about it a little differently than I had.
>
> (If you find yourself on the wrong side of a paywall, just google the title and it should send you through.)
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> John
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> -----------
> Dr. John Downer
> Global Insecurities Centre.
> School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies (SPAIS).
> University of Bristol (UK)
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systemsafety_at_xxxxxx Received on Wed Jul 29 2015 - 23:13:55 CEST

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