Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

does Society expect engineers to stop people dying?


  • Please log in to reply
189 replies to this topic

#51 GreenMachine

GreenMachine
  • Member

  • 1,547 posts
  • Joined: March 04

Posted 13 April 2015 - 00:06

Mac, there are situations where a monetary value is placed on a human life. The most obvious one is in taking out life insurance. Similarly, when a person through negligence kills someone, there is compensation which implicitly or explicitly places a monetary/economic value on that life.  The culprit's insurance company will have one value, the victim's insurance company may have another, the court may have a third, and the orphaned children a fourth, but there will be result involving money.  Are you proposing that the insurance that I may want for my dependents should be unavailable, or if I am killed by another's negligence my dependents should be told 'too bad, here are a few food stamps, good luck with the rest of your life'?

 

I don't know who is saying morality and commerce are incompatible, but it is not me, and I am not buying into that straw man (pun intended).  I will only say that commerce needs to value, in monetary terms, human life, because if it doesn't the law will impose its value, and use the argument of morality/just compensation as the grounds.  You haven't insured for the death of that worker, no problem, we can fix that!

 

I do not disagree that, for a company, using 'morality' to make better decisions is a good thing, but picking out one-off examples using hindsight is easy.  Translating that into creating decision-making principles for practical real-time application is quite another, and doing so without introducing monetary values is, I suspect, not possible.  This is because companies can not survive on a policy that says 'do no harm, and take all possible steps to do no harm'.  They have to take risks, weigh possibilities, and assess consequences, and that inevitably requires quantification and monetisation.



Advertisement

#52 Magoo

Magoo
  • Member

  • 2,772 posts
  • Joined: October 10

Posted 13 April 2015 - 00:34

Mac, there are situations where a monetary value is placed on a human life. The most obvious one is in taking out life insurance. Similarly, when a person through negligence kills someone, there is compensation which implicitly or explicitly places a monetary/economic value on that life. 

 

Totally irrelevant. A manufacturer does not have the power, nor the right, to place a dollar value on your life just because you purchased their product. 


Edited by Magoo, 13 April 2015 - 00:43.


#53 GreenMachine

GreenMachine
  • Member

  • 1,547 posts
  • Joined: March 04

Posted 13 April 2015 - 01:10

OK, lets agree to disagree.



#54 Magoo

Magoo
  • Member

  • 2,772 posts
  • Joined: October 10

Posted 13 April 2015 - 13:51

The concern here is comically misplaced. In the entire history of the automobile industry---spanning some 126 years and over 8000 manufacturers---how many companies have gone bankrupt by spending too much on the safety of their customers and workers? 

 

 

I posed this question earlier, and as one who can claim a decent knowledge of the automobile industry, I feel qualified to answer it: None. Zero. Zip. Ought. Nuhfink. Nada. In the entire history of automotive manufacturing, not one car company has ever gone broke or even been economically threatened by attending to the safety of its customers. In over 120 years, this has never happened. 

 

At this point it is fair to ask: What is everyone so worried about? 

 

So in the traditional costing out of consumer safety among the auto manufacturers, where does the real concern lie? In the safety and preservation of capital? No. In the optimization of value for the customer? Please. In the furtherance of full and fruitful employment for the workers? Haha, good one. No, this is all about one thing: an attempted maximization of profit --- and a thoroughly misguided and counterproductive one at that. 

 

But then, this is a specialty of the automakers: stooping over to pick up nickels and dimes while their dollars blow away. 



#55 Terry Walker

Terry Walker
  • Member

  • 2,963 posts
  • Joined: July 05

Posted 13 April 2015 - 14:41

Driverless cars will only succeed, at least in my lifetime, in severely restricted and controlled environments. I boggle at the thought of a driveless car attempting to negotiate its way around the Arc d'Triomphe on a seriously busy day, or the Amalfi Coast road at any time. And how about Mumbai at rush hour?

 

Such cars are only as good as their software, which is written by-- gosh!-- human beings.  Thereby ensuring that it is still human error if the computer makes a mistake and you finish up dead. Just different humans.



#56 Magoo

Magoo
  • Member

  • 2,772 posts
  • Joined: October 10

Posted 13 April 2015 - 16:05

Driverless cars will only succeed, at least in my lifetime, in severely restricted and controlled environments. I boggle at the thought of a driveless car attempting to negotiate its way around the Arc d'Triomphe on a seriously busy day, or the Amalfi Coast road at any time. And how about Mumbai at rush hour?

 

It's easy once you get all the crazy humans out of there. That was Musk's point. 



#57 Fat Boy

Fat Boy
  • Member

  • 2,213 posts
  • Joined: January 04

Posted 13 April 2015 - 17:21

I posed this question earlier, and as one who can claim a decent knowledge of the automobile industry, I feel qualified to answer it: None. Zero. Zip. Ought. Nuhfink. Nada. In the entire history of automotive manufacturing, not one car company has ever gone broke or even been economically threatened by attending to the safety of its customers. In over 120 years, this has never happened. 

 

 

 

Fair enough. How many have defined success by it? Volvo comes to mind, but the truth is that is as much of a marketing point as it is an engineering one. As with anything, it's going to be all the spices in the soup. You have to make a safe car, but it has to do many things well, not just one.



#58 Magoo

Magoo
  • Member

  • 2,772 posts
  • Joined: October 10

Posted 13 April 2015 - 22:39

Fair enough. How many have defined success by it? Volvo comes to mind, but the truth is that is as much of a marketing point as it is an engineering one. As with anything, it's going to be all the spices in the soup. You have to make a safe car, but it has to do many things well, not just one.

 

 

Couldn't agree more. Subaru has done very well selling safety, but the brand scores well in customer satisfaction across the board. 



#59 Greg Locock

Greg Locock
  • Member

  • 5,668 posts
  • Joined: March 03

Posted 13 April 2015 - 22:43

" A manufacturer does not have the power, nor the right, to place a dollar value on your life just because you purchased their product"

 

Nobody forced you to buy it. Until you come up with a better approach than CBA, then CBA is going to be used. 

 

Looks like consumers have other priorities as well

 

http://www.nada.com/...w-vehicles.aspx

 

and whatever the deficiencies of cba the end result is getting better

 

https://en.wikipedia...in_U.S._by_year


Edited by Greg Locock, 13 April 2015 - 23:13.


Advertisement

#60 gruntguru

gruntguru
  • Member

  • 6,765 posts
  • Joined: January 09

Posted 14 April 2015 - 00:16

F4zus2U.jpg

 

Fatalities per 100 million v.m.t. (vehicle miles travelled?) trending constantly from 24.01 in 1921 to 1.11 in 2013.



#61 Dmitriy_Guller

Dmitriy_Guller
  • Member

  • 4,822 posts
  • Joined: July 01

Posted 14 April 2015 - 01:02

Morality aside, the problem with manufacturers or service providers ignoring CBA is that their customers do not ignore it, even if they have never consciously thought about such a concept in their lives.  Customers trade safety for monetary value all the time.  If you improve airline safety at a cost per life saved much higher than what customers themselves implicitly value their life to be, then they'll just travel more by cars, which is a far more dangerous mode of transportation.  In such a case, an impeccably "moral" airline executive or FAA regulator will act in ways that will lead to more people losing their lives, but at least he can feel good about himself.



#62 Dmitriy_Guller

Dmitriy_Guller
  • Member

  • 4,822 posts
  • Joined: July 01

Posted 14 April 2015 - 01:17

 

Reasonable moral judgement would have prevented the Pinto fuel tank, Corvair swing axle, GM ignition switch, and numerous other automotive disasters---and note, at a great economic benefit to the companies. The automakers did not profit from these ethical blunders, on the contrary. They were gravely wounded by them. Here, a little moral reflection would have saved big bucks. 

Sounds like the problem is that the analysis was done poorly, not that it was done in the first place.

 

When we offer a product to the public, we accept a responsibility which compels to us ask: What can we reasonably do to make the product safer?  It is in our benefit to ask this question every day, not just the consumer's. What can we do to make the product safer as long as there's a buck in it is not the question. That's what cost-benefit analysis does. It doesn't consider the cost or benefit to the consumer but to the manufacturer. 

That's what the tort system is for, to internalize such externalities, so that in the end a buck lost to the consumers comes back to being a buck lost to the manufacturer.  Now, you may say that the tort system doesn't work, and you may be right, but that is not something that abandoning CBA will fix.

 

The concern here is comically misplaced. In the entire history of the automobile industry---spanning some 126 years and over 8000 manufacturers---how many companies have gone bankrupt by spending too much on the safety of their customers and workers? 

How many auto manufacturers have gone bankrupt by drenching their cars in horse manure before putting them in showrooms?  None.  Draw your own conclusions.


Edited by Dmitriy_Guller, 14 April 2015 - 01:18.


#63 Magoo

Magoo
  • Member

  • 2,772 posts
  • Joined: October 10

Posted 14 April 2015 - 04:28

" A manufacturer does not have the power, nor the right, to place a dollar value on your life just because you purchased their product"

 

Nobody forced you to buy it. Until you come up with a better approach than CBA, then CBA is going to be used. 

 

Looks like consumers have other priorities as well

 

http://www.nada.com/...w-vehicles.aspx

 

and whatever the deficiencies of cba the end result is getting better

 

https://en.wikipedia...in_U.S._by_year

 

 

 

The reduction in vehicular deaths cannot be attributed to CBA. You certainly haven't shown any causal connection. For all you have shown, the improvements in safety have resulted independently of and even despite the use of CBA, and the evidence clearly leads to that conclusion.

 

In fact, most of the advances in auto safety have occurred over the objections of the automakers, who repeatedly used CBA to insist that the costs were not justified. For many decades, they were dragged through the process kicking and screaming every inch of the way. The president of General Motors asserted that lap belts represented an unjustifiable cost. Charts, tables, and everything.   

 

So the fact that manufacturers may use CBA doesn't make it valid, quite the contrary. It doesn't make the valuation real or accurate, either. The victim's family and the courts can throw the valuation right back in the manufacturer's face, and they generally do.  



#64 Greg Locock

Greg Locock
  • Member

  • 5,668 posts
  • Joined: March 03

Posted 14 April 2015 - 05:38

We appear to be talking in circles. You still haven't suggested a better approach than CBA, and frankly I suspect you use an informal CBA in your own life when you buy new tires.



#65 Magoo

Magoo
  • Member

  • 2,772 posts
  • Joined: October 10

Posted 14 April 2015 - 06:35

We appear to be talking in circles. You still haven't suggested a better approach than CBA, and frankly I suspect you use an informal CBA in your own life when you buy new tires.

 

You are stating something quite trivial -- that we weigh pros versus cons, including cost, in our daily decisions. That is not cost-benefit analysis. That's like saying that when we look up in the sky and ponder the heavens, we are performing the Drake equation. Nonsense. 

 

I have indeed specified a superior approach to CBA: ordinary moral judgement. When the latter contradicts the former, choose the latter. 

 

How often have we seen CBA used as a substitute for standard business ethics when doing the right thing appeared too strenuous? CBA is not a moral calculus, was never meant to be. Used alone, it's a willful evasion of moral reason. When we make a decision involving human life and limb, that is a moral choice. There is no math that absolves it.  



#66 Terry Walker

Terry Walker
  • Member

  • 2,963 posts
  • Joined: July 05

Posted 14 April 2015 - 06:36

It's easy once you get all the crazy humans out of there. That was Musk's point. 

 

Yes, but between now and that Nirvana (if that's what it is) there's a long, long way to go. Which I think was my point. Consider the public infrastructure, not to mention the colossal size of the software needed... and in the end it moves human error from the nut behind the wheel to the geek behind the keyboard.

 

Actually, something a lot like it already exists... the Metro, the Underground, the Subway, the bullet train.  Get more and more people and driver cars off the roads as possible is part of the solution to road trauma. I think a truly driverless road system is a very distant. We're more likely to see driverless racing cars first.

 

Maybe when oil runs out the problem will solve itself. Back to horses. bullocks and llamas. (But that's no solution to the road toll. The horse-and-cart and horse-rider fatalities pre-motorcars were far worse per mile etc than cars today. Not one of my family, up the family tree and out sideways, has been killed or badly injured in a car accident; but my grandmother's second husband was killed when he fell off his cart and was crushed under the back wheel.)

 

And how about, instead of F1, chariot races again.



#67 gruntguru

gruntguru
  • Member

  • 6,765 posts
  • Joined: January 09

Posted 14 April 2015 - 06:51

You are stating something quite trivial -- that we weigh pros versus cons, including cost, in our daily decisions. That is not cost-benefit analysis. That's like saying that when we look up in the sky and ponder the heavens, we are performing the Drake equation. Nonsense. 

 

I have indeed specified a superior approach to CBA: ordinary moral judgement. When the latter contradicts the former, choose the latter. 

 

How often have we seen CBA used as a substitute for standard business ethics when doing the right thing appeared too strenuous? CBA is not a moral calculus, was never meant to be. Used alone, it's a willful evasion of moral reason. When we make a decision involving human life and limb, that is a moral choice. There is no math that absolves it.  

High level decisions are made daily, in the design of aircraft, cars, electrical appliances - to measurably compromise the safety (including lethal risk) of the product in order to save money. As pointed out by Dmitriy and Greg, the consumer ultimately performs a CBA (including factoring their own life) before choosing a mode of transport, a new car or even a set of tyres.



#68 Canuck

Canuck
  • Member

  • 2,072 posts
  • Joined: March 05

Posted 14 April 2015 - 09:01

Baloney. Such a proposal would require knowledge of the safety impacts of each of these decisions. Consumers are not trained to make purchase decisions based on safety except in the most obvious of situations, I.E. motorcycle vs. car. Even that isn't CBA but risk analysis without the cost playing any role in the decision.

#69 gruntguru

gruntguru
  • Member

  • 6,765 posts
  • Joined: January 09

Posted 14 April 2015 - 09:35

Double baloney. You are merely arguing how much emphasis the consumer places on the safety aspect of his decision.

 

This can vary from "I don't give a toss, I just want the cheapest/fastest/sexiest option" to "no way I am risking my family flying El-cheapo, I will pay the extra dollars to fly Never-crash"



#70 Magoo

Magoo
  • Member

  • 2,772 posts
  • Joined: October 10

Posted 14 April 2015 - 12:00

High level decisions are made daily, in the design of aircraft, cars, electrical appliances - to measurably compromise the safety (including lethal risk) of the product in order to save money. As pointed out by Dmitriy and Greg, the consumer ultimately performs a CBA (including factoring their own life) before choosing a mode of transport, a new car or even a set of tyres.

 

To diametrically opposed purpose and result.  A manufacturer considers the cost and benefit to the company. The consumer considers the cost and benefit to his/her family.

 

So: A manufacturer's use of cost/benefit analysis places the needs of the company and the needs of the consumer in precise, direct opposition -- 180 degrees apart. Not the smartest way for a business to treat its customers--or the most ethical. 

 

Also, it must be repeated that when consumers purchase goods and services, they can't apply cost/benefit analysis in any legitimate sense. When you select a new car, your choices from that point are limited to the boxes you can click on the option sheet. You don't get to spec the vehicle and make any of the critical choices which CBA would validate or not. You must rely on the manufacturer to look out for your best interests -- which, as we can see in the above. is problematic. 


Edited by Magoo, 14 April 2015 - 12:02.


#71 Magoo

Magoo
  • Member

  • 2,772 posts
  • Joined: October 10

Posted 14 April 2015 - 17:23

In fact, most of the advances in auto safety have occurred over the objections of the automakers, who repeatedly used CBA to insist that the costs were not justified. For many decades, they were dragged through the process kicking and screaming every inch of the way. The president of General Motors asserted that lap belts represented an unjustifiable cost. Charts, tables, and everything.   

 

 

 

This GM president's name was John F. Gordon and he gave the keynote speech before the National Safety Congress on Nov. 17, 1961. It's a fairly famous speech and sort of entertaining from a contemporary point of view. 



#72 Canuck

Canuck
  • Member

  • 2,072 posts
  • Joined: March 05

Posted 14 April 2015 - 19:49

Double baloney. You are merely arguing how much emphasis the consumer places on the safety aspect of his decision.

 

This can vary from "I don't give a toss, I just want the cheapest/fastest/sexiest option" to "no way I am risking my family flying El-cheapo, I will pay the extra dollars to fly Never-crash"

On the contrary.  You're suggesting that when a consumer shops, they are evaluating the price of safety.  I'm suggesting that information isn't available to the consumer to make a CBA.  Suggesting that a consumer takes safety into account, and price into account in no way requires (or precludes) that they are comparing those two specific criteria with each other and deriving an outcome from that.  Do you know what the risk impact is in purchasing a set of tires that weren't OEM selected for your vehicle?  I don't.  I don't even know how I could determine that. I can't possibly apply a CBA with safety as the benefit as it's a complete unknown. 

 

For an engineer to assume that "the consumer knows the risk" is outlandish at best and utterly negligent at worst.



#73 gruntguru

gruntguru
  • Member

  • 6,765 posts
  • Joined: January 09

Posted 14 April 2015 - 22:51

So: A manufacturer's use of cost/benefit analysis places the needs of the company and the needs of the consumer in precise, direct opposition -- 180 degrees apart. Not the smartest way for a business to treat its customers--or the most ethical. 

 

Also, it must be repeated that when consumers purchase goods and services, they can't apply cost/benefit analysis in any legitimate sense. When you select a new car, your choices from that point are limited to the boxes you can click on the option sheet. You don't get to spec the vehicle and make any of the critical choices which CBA would validate or not. You must rely on the manufacturer to look out for your best interests -- which, as we can see in the above. is problematic. 

 

I think I gave examples where meeting the needs of the customer - including safety - is also of direct financial benefit to the manufacturer.

 

When a consumer selects a new car, he has ample information at his disposal regarding safety. We have ANCAP safety ratings in Australia and I am sure the US doesn't lag in this area. Manufacturers advertise the safety aspects of their products. I have seen TV ads for side impact, frontal impact, air bags, reversing cameras to name just a few. How many times have you heard someone say they purchased an SUV because they feel "safer"?



#74 gruntguru

gruntguru
  • Member

  • 6,765 posts
  • Joined: January 09

Posted 14 April 2015 - 22:57

On the contrary.  You're suggesting that when a consumer shops, they are evaluating the price of safety.  I'm suggesting that information isn't available to the consumer to make a CBA.  Suggesting that a consumer takes safety into account, and price into account in no way requires (or precludes) that they are comparing those two specific criteria with each other and deriving an outcome from that.  Do you know what the risk impact is in purchasing a set of tires that weren't OEM selected for your vehicle?  I don't.  I don't even know how I could determine that. I can't possibly apply a CBA with safety as the benefit as it's a complete unknown.

 

How much information do you need? Sure - if the choice is between two name brands at a similar price, you will have to rely on testimonials or independent test reports. However, if you are shopping in this price bracket you have already made a decision based at least partly on safety. The same tyre store can sell you a set of tyres for half the price that will last twice as long. You have rejected this alternative on a number of criterea - one of which is probably safety.



#75 Greg Locock

Greg Locock
  • Member

  • 5,668 posts
  • Joined: March 03

Posted 14 April 2015 - 23:01

Seriously, you wouldn't be able to pick better tires than standard fitment for your vehicle?



#76 275 GTB-4

275 GTB-4
  • Member

  • 8,274 posts
  • Joined: February 03

Posted 14 April 2015 - 23:34

How many times have you heard someone say they purchased an SUV because they feel "safer"?


Quite a few times, however, I believe that "SUV" (in Australia at least) are built to commercial standards and therefore may no have the crash protection of other "passenger" cars. Then there is the high CoG etc...I say the jury is out on why people feel safe just because they are riding high, wide and handsome!

#77 desmo

desmo
  • Tech Forum Host

  • 19,705 posts
  • Joined: January 00

Posted 15 April 2015 - 00:38

The issue is so squishy and subjective it can't be pinned down in numbers. People expect products or services they buy not to harm or kill them but car travel is inherently risky even if every reasonable precaution is taken so there's a lot of having to accept risk on the user's part in any event.  Cars are unusual in that they will inevitably be associated with large numbers of deaths and injuries in their users in normal use, not many consumer products operate in that environment.  Reputational trust is hard to build and can be brought down in a flash, that's a strong incentive to make vehicles as safe as possible, but also a strong incentive to underplay or even cover up known safety issues--issues that will inevitably arise making complex cars.  



#78 Magoo

Magoo
  • Member

  • 2,772 posts
  • Joined: October 10

Posted 15 April 2015 - 00:49

Except in the most abstract, metaphorical sense, retail shopping is not cost/benefit analysis. It's shopping. 



#79 Magoo

Magoo
  • Member

  • 2,772 posts
  • Joined: October 10

Posted 15 April 2015 - 00:52

Back in the 1960s, Automotive News, the leading business journal of the industry, had an engineering editor named James M. Callahan who wrote a series of 30 (thirty!) in-depth technical stories entitled "The Billion-Dollar Smog Hoax." In this series, he used what you call cost/benefit analysis to establish that the emission controls then being proposed in Congress would cost the auto industry $50 per car, that consumers would be bilked more than $400 million per year, and that the automotive internal combustion engine "would be legislated out of existence in one of history's worst miscarriages of justice." 

 

What was this emission control? The PCV valve. 



Advertisement

#80 gruntguru

gruntguru
  • Member

  • 6,765 posts
  • Joined: January 09

Posted 15 April 2015 - 02:39

The issue is so squishy and subjective it can't be pinned down in numbers. People expect products or services they buy not to harm or kill them but car travel is inherently risky even if every reasonable precaution is taken so there's a lot of having to accept risk on the user's part in any event.  Cars are unusual in that they will inevitably be associated with large numbers of deaths and injuries in their users in normal use, not many consumer products operate in that environment.  Reputational trust is hard to build and can be brought down in a flash, that's a strong incentive to make vehicles as safe as possible, but also a strong incentive to underplay or even cover up known safety issues--issues that will inevitably arise making complex cars.  

Nice post Desmo. It illustrates that there are two distinct categories of auto safety that manufacturers must consider.

 

The first I would loosely term "product defects" This includes deficiencies in design, manufacture, materials etc. The items mentioned by Mac (Corvair swing axles etc) fall into this category. In some cases the manufacturer may have identified the deficiency and decided to run with it anyway having done a CBA. The consumer is unlikely to be sufficiently informed to be able to conduct any sort of CBA.

 

The second is engineered safety which are enhancements or control measures designed to protect the public during what is an inherently hazardous activity. Improvements in primary and secondary safety abound on the modern car and the public are well informed by advertising and other media info. Many of the enhancements are extra cost options and the consumer will often be conducting an informal CBA when making these decisions.


Edited by gruntguru, 15 April 2015 - 02:40.


#81 Greg Locock

Greg Locock
  • Member

  • 5,668 posts
  • Joined: March 03

Posted 15 April 2015 - 02:44

As I said before CBA is a blunt instrument. When we are selecting the targets for tires we don't have an exact way of working out what the braking distance is, so we approach it a few different ways and use our judgement. There still is a dollar sign in there, because we work with dollars. So it resembles shopping. The equations aren't exact, the correlation between stopping distance and tire performance isn't exact, we don't know many things exactly. We get the best figures we can and try it a few different ways.

 

As it happens I agree, some of  the big car companies do tend to whine a lot when new regs are proposed, and come up with some pretty stupid arguments sometimes. Despite your claims, I think that gruntgurus graph is a success story, and the tool used to drive safety improvements is CBA, whether for new street furniture, rerouting of roads, or new design features in cars. Everybody on the safety side of the transportation industry expects to use it.

 

Many companies do progress the state of the art through their own free will, I'd say in particular off the top of my head Volvo (safety), Toyota (HEV) and Mercedes (safety) have pushed the envelope in various positive ways WITHOUT being told to by anybody else in particular.



#82 gruntguru

gruntguru
  • Member

  • 6,765 posts
  • Joined: January 09

Posted 15 April 2015 - 03:10

They have each identified a niche and exploited it to gain a marketing edge. Other makers are eventually forced to follow suit or lose market share.



#83 Fat Boy

Fat Boy
  • Member

  • 2,213 posts
  • Joined: January 04

Posted 15 April 2015 - 16:33


 


 

 

 

I have indeed specified a superior approach to CBA: ordinary moral judgement. When the latter contradicts the former, choose the latter. 

 

 

 

 

 

Too squishy. You could never defend yourself in court. Even if your intentions were pure as the driven snow you'd get chewed apart.

 

You have to use some sort of CBA. It should not be the only criteria, but it has to be one of them. Making any modern car safer would be easy, but I don't see many consumers willing to buckle a 6 point harness or pay for a real cage. Both would improve the safety, but you couldn't sell it. In many ways I'm glad it's a situation I don't have to put myself in. I can pretty much do anything I want in terms of safety and get all the buy in. That's probably the single best thing about modern racing.

 

All this said by the guy who just got a patch to cover a nail puncture on the LF of his families minivan instead of buying a new set of tires.



#84 BRG

BRG
  • Member

  • 17,200 posts
  • Joined: September 99

Posted 15 April 2015 - 17:38

Seriously, you wouldn't be able to pick better tires than standard fitment for your vehicle?

To prove that there are more factors in this than meet the eye initially, there is the case of winter tyres which are well known to be better, and therefore safer, in winter conditions, especially snow.  In the run of bad and snowy winters we recently had in the UK, people started to think of changing to winter tyres, only to be told by their insurance companies that they weren't to the manufacturer's original spec and therefore invalidated their policy.

 

You couldn't make it up....



#85 desmo

desmo
  • Tech Forum Host

  • 19,705 posts
  • Joined: January 00

Posted 15 April 2015 - 17:47

If auto safety were subject to a wholly rational CBA, surely we'd have mandatory helmet usage--and as FB suggests--six point harness belts in passenger cars.  In the end it's maddeningly irrational and political--just like people are.



#86 mariner

mariner
  • Member

  • 1,821 posts
  • Joined: January 07

Posted 15 April 2015 - 22:50

I amcurrently driving a GM rental car with lousy rear vision and a rear view camera. The owners manual has three pages on the camera which basically says don't rely on it. I would agree with that having used it, its useful but not any sort of solve-all safety fix. As the manual says it doesnt show under the car behind the rear tyres which is the sort place any enquiring toddler will go.

 

So it really needs two more cameras, one behind each  tyre and three not one cabin screen to be more absolutely safe.

 

So I could say the US Congress, the NTSA and GM are morally guilty because they demanded, legistlated and installed something that may save 95 lives per year  but wil not save the  life of a toddler who gets run over because they crawled behind a tyre and the parent didn't check where they were. As  GM warns about that but doesn't prevent it they are guilty of "letting kids be killed for profit" etc.

 

Alternatively the parent could be morally guilty because they read the manual and ignored the clear warnings in it .

 

Or maybe its GM who are morally at fault by not loading  the manual into the screen and making the driver page right through it before letting them start the engine?

 

So even an attempt to save lives leaves the issue of responsibilty unanswered!


Edited by mariner, 15 April 2015 - 22:50.


#87 mariner

mariner
  • Member

  • 1,821 posts
  • Joined: January 07

Posted 15 April 2015 - 22:51

I am currently driving a GM rental car with lousy rear vision and a rear view camera. The owners manual has three pages on the camera which basically says don't rely on it. I would agree with that having used it, its useful but not any sort of solve-all safety fix. As the manual says it doesnt show under the car behind the rear tyres which is the sort place any enquiring toddler will go.

 

So it really needs two more cameras, one behind each  tyre and three not one cabin screen to be more absolutely safe.

 

So I could say the US Congress, the NTSA and GM are morally guilty because they demanded, legistlated and installed something that may save 95 lives per year  but wil not save the  life of a toddler who gets run over because they crawled behind a tyre and the parent didn't check where they were. As  GM warns about that but doesn't prevent it they are guilty of "letting kids be killed for profit" etc.

 

Alternatively the parent could be morally guilty because they read the manual and ignored the clear warnings in it .

 

Or maybe its GM who are morally at fault by not loading  the manual into the screen and making the driver page right through it before letting them start the engine?

 

So even an attempt to save lives leaves the issue of responsibilty unanswered!



#88 275 GTB-4

275 GTB-4
  • Member

  • 8,274 posts
  • Joined: February 03

Posted 15 April 2015 - 23:09

If auto safety were subject to a wholly rational CBA, surely we'd have mandatory helmet usage--and as FB suggests--six point harness belts in passenger cars.  In the end it's maddeningly irrational and political--just like people are.


CBA IS a wholly rational approach...its the variables you use and the priority you place on them that makes it a useful tool.

If you are happy to pay for helmets, 6 point harnesses, the required cabin strengthening to make them effective including upgraded seating and the regular replacement costs to maintain their currency...then are you also prepared to PAY the additional COST to implement said measures? (and ohhh by the way, forget trying to populate the world, little ones don't fit the adult anthropomorphic profile of most helmets and harnesses.

#89 Canuck

Canuck
  • Member

  • 2,072 posts
  • Joined: March 05

Posted 16 April 2015 - 02:14

Seriously, you wouldn't be able to pick better tires than standard fitment for your vehicle?

 

 

As I said before CBA is a blunt instrument. When we are selecting the targets for tires we don't have an exact way of working out what the braking distance is, so we approach it a few different ways and use our judgement. There still is a dollar sign in there, because we work with dollars. So it resembles shopping. The equations aren't exact, the correlation between stopping distance and tire performance isn't exact, we don't know many things exactly. We get the best figures we can and try it a few different ways.

 

 

Perhaps I'm completely misunderstanding the communication here - is your question a literal question or sarcasm?  In light what you've noted in the 2nd post here, I would have to (and would have anyway) responded to your first thusly: how am I, an enthusiast, licensed mechanic, gear-head sort of guy, able to do a better job of picking safer tires than the team of engineers that picked the OEM ones?  And if I can't, I humbly submit your average consumer can't either. 

 

My point, somewhere lost long ago, was that consumers do not make do any sort of CBA with respect to safety.  That's done by manufacturers, some better than others, some perhaps more honestly than others. I'd like to think that we can all agree there's a fundamental difference between opting against installing a roll cage in the family hauler vs, quietly trying to sweep under the rug a faulty switch that directly contributes to the failure of the safety mechanisms in the car while simultaneously creating a loss of control likely to cause a significant accident that would require the aforementioned safety mechanisms to protect the occupants as originally engineered.   



#90 desmo

desmo
  • Tech Forum Host

  • 19,705 posts
  • Joined: January 00

Posted 16 April 2015 - 02:14

Essentially the same argument can--or could have been--used against airbags or seatbelts can it not?  Helmets is easy, they are already mandatory on anyone who rides on a motorcycle most places, I'm sure something quite effective could be made cheaply like a fifty dollar styrofoam bike helmet if that's what the buyer preferred.  The reduction in head injuries resulting from automobile accidents would, I would wager, be large by any measure. Many lives would in fact be saved every year.  Yet we both know that will never come to pass, because it would be politically impossible. Safety issues are frequently ruled not by logic but by less than wholly rational political processes.



#91 desmo

desmo
  • Tech Forum Host

  • 19,705 posts
  • Joined: January 00

Posted 16 April 2015 - 02:20

CBA IS a wholly rational approach...its the variables you use and the priority you place on them that makes it a useful tool.

 

 

It isn't rational because to run a CBA involving potential fatalities, an arbitrary irrational number must be plugged into the calculation that purports to equate a human life with that number.  Now we can obviously invent a number and run the CBA, no problem, but that veneer of rationality applied doesn't change the irrationality of the variable at its heart. And thus the calculation or its result. 



#92 Greg Locock

Greg Locock
  • Member

  • 5,668 posts
  • Joined: March 03

Posted 16 April 2015 - 02:26

Cannuck - yes you can choose a better tire than the manufacturer, since you can choose not to be constrained by cost, durability, noise, ride, or fuel economy, all of which the manufacturer has to pay attention to, either for legal reasons or market acceptability.(I said this before more or less)



#93 Canuck

Canuck
  • Member

  • 2,072 posts
  • Joined: March 05

Posted 16 April 2015 - 02:28

How much information do you need? Sure - if the choice is between two name brands at a similar price, you will have to rely on testimonials or independent test reports. However, if you are shopping in this price bracket you have already made a decision based at least partly on safety. The same tyre store can sell you a set of tyres for half the price that will last twice as long. You have rejected this alternative on a number of criterea - one of which is probably safety.

What price bracket?  I must have missed it.

 

I suppose if we're talking about two spectral opposites in safety, then yes, we've consciously or otherwise performed our own version of a CBA. The argument for is this: the engineering team and researchers know more about the limitations and synergistic performance of their automobile than I can possibly hope to. I have very little choice but to believe in people like Greg, and that they are making decisions that, to the best of their experience, will not put me or mine in peril beyond that present in the generally accepted risk of driving a 4000 pound weapon. The price of things is no guarantee of anything as a factor as simple as a different sales market can command a drastically different sales price.  Once upon a time I emailed GM and asked them why, after all the conversions and taxes, was a Corvette sold in a US state half a day's drive from me 25% less than the equivalently spec'd unit in Calgary. Boiled down, the answer was "because you suckers keep paying". So price as a measure of safety?  No.

 

Is there information from which you can glean appropriate safety information?  Let's say yes.  NHSTA or whatever American organization is that crashes everything 16 ways from Sunday. We could pull up the performance of each vehicle we'd boiled the list down to and go from there.  Perhaps I'm just an idiot, or a negligent father, as I looked rather specifically at the reliability, but paid only passing attention to safety (not 2 stars?  Thumbs up).  I'm not sure I would have spent more money to get an additional safety star specifically.



#94 Greg Locock

Greg Locock
  • Member

  • 5,668 posts
  • Joined: March 03

Posted 16 April 2015 - 02:31

desmo - life is full of decisions with imperfect numbers, but the average financial value of a human life is one that has been investigated for centuries. If you don't like the number being used, do as American jury trials do (and hence we do) and use a big multiplier.



#95 Canuck

Canuck
  • Member

  • 2,072 posts
  • Joined: March 05

Posted 16 April 2015 - 02:38

Greg - let me propose the following absurd analogy. The Traveling Salesman Problem is a classic problem - 100 destinations in the most efficient route. Factor(100) is a ridiculously large number, going from memory, of 9 x 10^157.  If we were to calculate every possible combination of destinations using the currently-acknowledged fastest computer in the world - a 17 mega-watt consuming 33.8 quadrillion calculations per second monster, it will still require 2.(i forgot) x 10^132 centuries. So, that problem is mathematically solvable, much like I am unbounded by the OEM's constraints in tire choice, but it is not practically solvable, much like I lack the tools to make a better choice. 

 

Of course, there are shortcuts - politicians travel routes with significant constraints all the time, especially during campaign season, and discrete optimization tools can lead us to the end fairly quickly.  Google's engineers have even been so kind as to publish their software tools for this sort of thing for free.  Short of marketing material (and those are always 100% trustworthy) , I'm not sure where my tire safety guide shortcuts are.



#96 gruntguru

gruntguru
  • Member

  • 6,765 posts
  • Joined: January 09

Posted 16 April 2015 - 03:44

What price bracket?  I must have missed it.

 

The "name brand" price bracket - twice the price of el-cheapo tyres - half the price of ultra sticky tyres.



#97 Greg Locock

Greg Locock
  • Member

  • 5,668 posts
  • Joined: March 03

Posted 16 April 2015 - 06:31

Well you've got the NHTSA database that gives you traction ratings (in the wet!) and life and then you've got the promotional material from each manufacturer - the only one I've studied is Goodyear's, and this does give you some idea of what each tire should be good for. Then there's tire rack and the magazines. and the owners clubs.



#98 Magoo

Magoo
  • Member

  • 2,772 posts
  • Joined: October 10

Posted 16 April 2015 - 12:02

 

 

 

 

 

Too squishy. You could never defend yourself in court. Even if your intentions were pure as the driven snow you'd get chewed apart.

 

You have to use some sort of CBA. It should not be the only criteria, but it has to be one of them. Making any modern car safer would be easy, but I don't see many consumers willing to buckle a 6 point harness or pay for a real cage. Both would improve the safety, but you couldn't sell it. In many ways I'm glad it's a situation I don't have to put myself in. I can pretty much do anything I want in terms of safety and get all the buy in. That's probably the single best thing about modern racing.

 

All this said by the guy who just got a patch to cover a nail puncture on the LF of his families minivan instead of buying a new set of tires.

 

 

 

On the contrary: In a courtroom, demonstrated ethical behavior beats CBA every time. 



#99 Magoo

Magoo
  • Member

  • 2,772 posts
  • Joined: October 10

Posted 16 April 2015 - 12:24

Cannuck - yes you can choose a better tire than the manufacturer, since you can choose not to be constrained by cost, durability, noise, ride, or fuel economy, all of which the manufacturer has to pay attention to, either for legal reasons or market acceptability.(I said this before more or less)

 

 

Of course it is possible to select a better tire than the OE fitment by choosing a more expensive one. However, that is not the issue here at all. The issue is you cannot perform a better CBA than the manufacturer. You don't have the time, resources, or access to info. A real cost/benefit analysis that is recognizable in industry as such would exceed the value of the tires, if not the entire vehicle. 

 

I am repeating myself here, but: Except in the most casual, conversational sense, consumer shopping for retail goods does not involve cost/benefit analysis. The practice of shopping goes back many thousands of years to the dawn of civilization. Cost/benefit analysis was invented in 1848 by French civil engineer Jules Dupuit. 



Advertisement

#100 Magoo

Magoo
  • Member

  • 2,772 posts
  • Joined: October 10

Posted 16 April 2015 - 12:25

I am currently driving a GM rental car with lousy rear vision and a rear view camera. The owners manual has three pages on the camera which basically says don't rely on it. I would agree with that having used it, its useful but not any sort of solve-all safety fix. As the manual says it doesnt show under the car behind the rear tyres which is the sort place any enquiring toddler will go.

 

So it really needs two more cameras, one behind each  tyre and three not one cabin screen to be more absolutely safe.

 

So I could say the US Congress, the NTSA and GM are morally guilty because they demanded, legistlated and installed something that may save 95 lives per year  but wil not save the  life of a toddler who gets run over because they crawled behind a tyre and the parent didn't check where they were. As  GM warns about that but doesn't prevent it they are guilty of "letting kids be killed for profit" etc.

 

Alternatively the parent could be morally guilty because they read the manual and ignored the clear warnings in it .

 

Or maybe its GM who are morally at fault by not loading  the manual into the screen and making the driver page right through it before letting them start the engine?

 

So even an attempt to save lives leaves the issue of responsibilty unanswered!

 

 

That's just the PCV valve argument recycled, isn't it?