Reader Question: Third Eye?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Tom asks: Center high mount stop lamps were sold as a safety device, with the IIHS saying they would end a certain dollar amount of accidents. Well, lo these many years, how has that worked out? Have we saved huge money because of these? Or were they just the first salvo in forcing saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety on us? Any statistics of how many accidents were prevented? Anyone? Actuaries? Bueller? Bueller?

My reply: I remember when the JC Whitney and other parts catalogs sold the third eye – before the government mandated them in the mid-1980s. As was also true with regard to air bags, almost no one bought them voluntarily because of the obvious value (I’m being sarcastic) and thus government had to learn ’em better by forcing them to buy them.

Neither sold, in other words. They were imposed.

Do either provide any saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety benefit? Not that this is any of the government’s business in a free society, in which the proper business of government is to preserve people’s rights, above all their right to be left in peace – but just for the sake of discussion.

Yes, certainly. Air bags have saved lives. They have also taken them. CHMSLs have probably prevented a few rear-enders – but they have also added ugliness to cars as well as cost.

The benefits of both are potential. If you are an attentive/competent driver the odds of having a serious accident are extremely low; the air bags and CHMSL in such a case provide no actual benefit at all. But they impose definite/actual costs.

And that choice has been taken away from you and I as individuals on the basis of some asserted cost-benefit analysis applied to a collective. It’s just the same with regard to practically everything in this country nowadays. One size fits all – or else.

You haven’t imposed any costs on “society.” You aren’t hurting anyone by doing whatever you’re doing. But the claim that someone might – which is plausible and probably true – negates your former right to be held accountable only for the things you do that impose costs/cause harm on others and be left in peace otherwise.

Someone goes postal and kills their boss over some workplace squabble. You had nothing to do with it; neither did the rest of the people in the state who never shot anyone with their guns. But they are held responsible for what the shooter did – and what future shooters (not them – just “future shooters”) might do.

A careless person fails to keep track of their toddler – or fails to make sure the area behind their car is clear of toddlers – and backs up over one. All of a sudden, every new car must be equipped with a remote-view back-up camera and buzzers that chime whenever someone walks within a few feet of a backing-up car, even though you looked and do see them and didn’t back-up over them.

Healthy people forced to face diaper … etc.

It’s the flowering of a trend that can be traced back to the ’60s, the rise of the Safety Cult. Which has resulted in the loss of not just our freedom but of our functional individuality, defined as our freedom of action as individuals and our freedom to be held accountable only for what we – not others – do or might do.

. . .

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. I have a couple of things to say about the third eye. One, it was originally conceived during the 1930s, but the gov’t rejected the idea because they thought it would cause MORE collisions. Two, I like that cars have them, because it’s easier to read the traffic ahead of you-at least when a big SUV isn’t blocking you anyway…

    • Hi Mark,

      As usual,I have no issue with the third eye as such; if people want them – and wish to pay for them – they have every right to order them or install them. I’d be an asshole to tell them no, they can’t. But what are they when they tell me my car has to have one? That all new cars must be equipped with them?

  2. Some people call the third one “Liddy lights” because Elizabeth Dole (wife of Bob Dole) pushed for them as Transportation Secretary during the Ronald Reagan years. She also worked with MADD on raising the drinking age to 21 and withholding highway funding from states that didn’t want to do so.

    • Hi Rich,

      Yup. Elizabeth Doooooooooole. An early model Karen. She was also instrument in pushing the SRS mandate, which led to air bags and began with automated seat belts.

      Remember them?

      • I remember when they first came out with the third eye, I believe 1986? Initially, I think they were somewhat effective, simply because it was different, something you hadn’t seen before, and therefore you noticed it. Over time, older drivers became used to it, and of course a new generation of drivers have never known anything else, so now it’s useless. Just like car alarms. When they first came into being, it was unusual to hear a horn honking endlessly, so people went to see what was going on. Now, when you hear one you don’t imagine some criminal breaking into a car, you just think some dipshit hit the wrong button on his key fob and curse him for not shutting the damn thing off quick enough. Therefore, also useless at this point.


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