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Department of Transportation Makes Rear View Cameras Mandatory 518

An anonymous reader writes "The Department of Transportation issued a new rule (PDF) on Monday requiring car manufacturers to include rearview cameras in all cars manufactured after May 1, 2018. The rule applies to all cars weighing less than 10,000 pounds, including buses and trucks, but does not include motorcycles and trailers. '[The cameras] must give drivers a field of vision measuring at least 10 by 20 feet directly behind the vehicle. The system must also meet other requirements including dashboard image size, lighting conditions and display time.' An estimated 13 to 15 deaths and 1,125 injuries may be prevented with the implementation of this new requirement."
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Department of Transportation Makes Rear View Cameras Mandatory

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  • by amalcolm ( 1838434 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @08:11AM (#46629153)
    I've got eyes in the back of my head, you insensitive clod!
    • An estimated 13 to 15 deaths and 1,125 injuries may be prevented with the implementation of this new requirement."

      This read like sarcasm to me. Then I realized they were serious. I'm all for backup cameras. I've had my share of fender benders, but it seems like there are far better ways to spend money to improve car safety than this.

  • 13 deaths? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bartles ( 1198017 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @08:12AM (#46629157)
    Let's just ban cars. And scissors. How many people died from choking last year? Surely there's some way to prevent those.
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @08:29AM (#46629253) Homepage

      30 people died from choking on scissors last year.

    • I agree. As someone who doesn't own a car, because of the expense, this isn't likely to make me want to buy a new one. With all the stuff they have to include now, a car in way more complicated, way more expensive to buy, and way more expensive to maintain than it needs to be. Cars would probably be a lot safer if they were made more simply, and they didn't change the design ever 2 or 3 years. Stick with time tested designs and get all the bugs out and you'd end up with a car that was reliable and safe.
      • Cars would probably be a lot safer if they were made more simply, and they didn't change the design ever 2 or 3 years. Stick with time tested designs and get all the bugs out and you'd end up with a car that was reliable and safe.

        That is a strong assertion. Can you back that up? Over the years, cars have become safer both for the people inside and other road users (well, the latter probably doesn't really hold for SUV monsters), and also got much better fuel economy. A lot of that you can't achieve by debug

        • by jythie ( 914043 )
          I think there might be something to be said for keeping with older behaviors at least. Older car behaviors were fairly obvious, the car did what you told it to do, newer ones you kinda have to guess at what the manufacturer THINKS you are going to do and then what the car will actually do.

          Just this weekend I nearly got into an accident when my new car's 'anti-skid' protection switched on unexpectedly.....
          • Re:13 deaths? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @09:21AM (#46629605) Homepage

            Older car behaviors were fairly obvious

            Yep. Driving on ice without traction control was totally intuitive.

            Braking without ABS was the same under all conditions and road surfaces, required no driver skill in choosing the correct force to apply to the pedal.

            • I've 'raced' cars since before it was legal for me to drive, and by raced I mean in the most redneck illegal sense you can possibly come up with short of stealing the car itself. Some pretty hot cars mind you, all of our parents were gear heads, so we always had a good selection of nice rides around someones house, and after they were drunk enough ... well, no one noticed that we borrowed them ;)

              Anyway, I've dealt with a far amount of skids without ABS, and know how to deal with it. You would never catch

        • Cars have become safer, and them are more reliable, but this isn't because we have added more components. Bicycles have also become safer and more reliable over the years and isn't because manufacturers starting adding tons of extra components to them. They have also become a lot cheaper (relative to inflation) than they once were. Aerodynamics and crumple zones are examples of technology that is good for cars. Things like mandatory rear view cameras for people who are too lazy to look in the rear view mir
      • Re:13 deaths? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by plover ( 150551 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @09:15AM (#46629553) Homepage Journal

        Umm... this law is a direct result of that testing process you referred to in the phrase "time-tested". Time has shown that there are about 300 deaths per year due to backing over people. Time has also shown backup cameras to be highly effective at preventing these deaths. Backup cameras fix the "bug" (the blind spot behind and below the trunk of the car.)

        If you think this makes a car too expensive, what price do you put on accidentally running over a human being? Let's say a dead person costs $6 million. (That was the price a few years ago from my state, who figured out the amount they'd spend on an unsafe road to fix the problem after a fatality.) If you were to spread the price of 300 dead people (6*300 = 1.8 billion dollars) and divide by the number of cars sold in the US per year (estimating 20 million) that works out to $90 per car sold. Multiply that by an average 10 year lifetime of a car and it works out to $900 per car. If a camera costs less than that, it's cheaper for society to require them to fix the problem.

        Mathematically, it's cheaper to require the cameras than to live with the deaths they could prevent.

        • Yes backing up over people is an issue but are backup cameras the solution. It is about unintended consequences. If there is a monitor in the dash of the vehicle the driver will be looking forward as they back up. They will only be able to see directly behind them as that is where the camera is pointed. It is quite possible that they will miss crossing traffic such as children riding bikes on the sidewalk or traffic in the street. The few accidents caused by driving over someone may be far outweighed by the

    • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

      Well no, that is the total amount now; so its more like the maximum benefit you can possibly expect if the backup cameras are 100% effective at preventing such deaths. You will not possibly save more than about 13 lives on average per year. Since any measure is unlikely to be 100% effective, it is actually less than that.

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      Well, 1.24 million people did not die bumping into each other when walking in 2010 but they did die in motor vehicle accidents. So yeah, restructuring the design of human cities as well as other elements of society to reduce the use of motor vehicles is very likely a bloody good idea to save people's lives. With over a million people a year getting killed by them they most certainly don't seem such a good idea in the current implementation at all, the mind boggles at the idea that tens of millions are inju

  • Good.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Savage-Rabbit ( 308260 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @08:13AM (#46629161)

    They can include a dash cam and side view cameras as well along with an interface that allows me to copy filmed material to an SD card or something... That would have saved me twice from getting stuck with being 50 percent at fault (both times the other driver ignored a red light).

    • In Soviet Russia, dash cams are compulsory!

      Hmmm, that didn't quite work out like I wanted.

      • I think it should be: "In Soviet Russia, dash cam films YOU".

        (hmmm....still doesn't work, but at least it has the "you" in the right place)

  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @08:13AM (#46629163) Homepage

    What society really needs to do is admit that some people are simply unfit to be in control of a vehicle and deny them a license.

    Fail the test three times, that's it. No more chances.

    PS: I guess this isn't too expensive. By 2018 screens will be standard instead of analog instruments (they're cheaper!) and cameras will cost $0.10.

    • Without necessarily contradicting you, this requirement should ensure that people with neck and back injuries that make it difficult to check the blind spot can still drive safely.

      On the other hand, I would prefer a heads-up option. Situational awareness is everything in a manoeuvre.

      • Me? I want compulsory auto-brakes fitted for people who use the "I know I'm there when I hit the car behind me" method of parallel parking.

        Also: Doors which lock in position before they bang the car next to you in parking lots.

    • Oh, dear...

      For a laugh I just googled the average number off attempts needed to pass the driving test.

      The UK government actually publishes statistics of "pass rate by ethnicity of candidate", and.... Asians and blacks are more likely to fail the test than whites. []

      • by Chrisq ( 894406 )

        Oh, dear...

        For a laugh I just googled the average number off attempts needed to pass the driving test.

        The UK government actually publishes statistics of "pass rate by ethnicity of candidate", and.... Asians and blacks are more likely to fail the test than whites. []

        That doesn't tell you much unless you cross-reference with other data (are they taking it at a later age, maybe more immigrants in this group) and other factors (like are they immigrants who take the test early because they have driven in other countries), and motivation (my wife was very relaxed about her test as she could drive for a year on an overseas license before passing. It was quite amusing when she failed first time, said thanks, and drove off!).

      • by dargaud ( 518470 )
        Maybe when you are poor (=ethnic) you can't afford as many lessons before trying the test, hence a higher fail rate.
    • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @08:38AM (#46629325) Homepage

      What society really needs to do is admit that some people are simply unfit to be in control of a vehicle and deny them a license.

      Eventually it will come to the conclusion that all people are unfit to be in control of vehicles, and let the vehicles drive themselves.

    • Only on Slashdot will you see such a bizarre juxtaposition of rabid rights defenders -- to the point of saying that sometimes people need to die in order to uphold our civil rights and freedoms -- who so quickly reverse course when it comes to driving. In a country where one is afforded the right to move about and take residence where they please and has thousands of small, remote communities (not everyone wants to live in a big city, y'know), transportation, by necessity, needs to be made a right. By the

  • Self driving car (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zerosomething ( 1353609 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @08:15AM (#46629179) Homepage
    So about 2 years after this is required most high end autos will be equipped with self driving systems making the rule almost irrelevant. It won't be long before technology will be outpacing this kind of safety law. We really should be putting energy into liability issues around the self driving car.
    • It's not for "high-end autos", it's a requirement for all cars.

    • Given the amount of options we have already of not having to drive ourselves to get anywhere, people will not be using the self driving feature for most of the time. That gives the self driving feature on cars a very small market since the price of a vehicle with self driving capability will be much higher than the equivalent vehicle that doesn't have the option. The safety advance we will see in practice from self driving cars will be rather insignificant the first few years the technology is available at
  • It's April 1st. You're not fooling anyone.
    • This is legit. Regular news sources picked this up yesterday. Sadly, I've seen people who over rely on these cameras almost hit people by not checking the sides of their car!
    • It's April 1st. You're not fooling anyone.

      I don't care, this is a good idea. I installed a dash cam in my car. It's just a HD webcam hooked up to a board computer that runs a C++ daemon using the OpenCV libraries but I have already captured some rather spectacular footage. Including a car that had gone off the road in icy conditions, there was a light post which the car had sheared off it's mounting resting on the car's roof (I arrived at the scene post facto). A couple of days ago I captured another bit off scary footage when I had to drive onto t

  • Why do I need a camera to see my rear view? They make my ass look big.
  • and what do you do about the other 30,000 people killed on US roads each year? (plus many more from the air pollution from vehicles)

    • I'm all for new safety standards... if they are useful. I mean we've made great strides in reducing car fatalities. They've been dropping in absolute and per captia numbers since the late 60s, and in deaths per million vehicle miles traveled since 1921, when we started keeping statistics. That's a really good thing, that while driving more than ever less people die. The major reason is better safety standards, things like mandatory seatbelts, cars that deform and crumple to absorb the energy of an impact an

  • 1) Cars should make beeping noises in reverse just like trucks

    2) Cars should have backup sonar/radar/sensor to detect pedestrians and other cars

    My car has a backup camera and I usually use it, but sometimes I'm not looking at it when backing up and instead using mirrors.

    The point being, a backup camera doesn't mean you are necessarily looking at the screen --- especially when you don't think there is anything behind you to worry about.
  • by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @08:40AM (#46629345) Journal

    All because people are too lazy or too fat to turn around in their seat and look behind them or check their side mirrors.

    I can't count the number of people I see every week who, when backing up, only look in their rear view mirror to see what's behind them. It is a rare sight indeed to see someone do what they're supposed to and turn around both ways to look behind them.

    This is the result. Another piece of useless cruft shoehorned into a car just waiting to implode and cost the owner hundreds of dollars in repairs.

    • by dargaud ( 518470 )
      True story: at work (in the US), we'd all pile up in a few cars to go out to lunch. One day we get in the car of our new hire and she steps on it in reverse to get out of her spot. Someone blurts: "Don't you look before reversing ?!?". Her: "And how do you suggest I do that ?". "Well, either turn around or look in the mirror...". "Nah, they do that in the movies !"
  • Ahead of the curve again. []

  • by srussia ( 884021 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @08:43AM (#46629361)
    they can be tilted slightly up!
  • Notwithstanding my opinion of whether the government should mandate these, I find my backup camera provides a view that cannot be matched simply by some notion of "driving skill".

    I can see exactly what is on the ground behind the rear of my vehicle. This allows me to drive in reverse with more confidence.

    I wouldn't necessarily consider this mandatory safety equipment though. By their own estimates this will only result in the prevention of 13 to 15 deaths. There are, what, 330 million people in this country

    • I've driven a car with a backup camera. It made me distinctly uneasy so I stopped using it.

      The problem I discovered is the backup camera can tell you what's behind you... It can't tell you what's _about_ to be behind you. That's information you get only by looking around and through the windows.

      If I'm already looking through the windows to see what's in proximity, I don't need another place to look.

    • I can see exactly what is on the ground behind the rear of my vehicle.

      Yes, you can see the ground behind the rear of the vehicle. You can't see the side impact about to happen as you stare at the monitor in front of you.

  • 15 million light vehicles per year, so over 1 billion dollars, and they say it will save "13 to 15 lives per year and prevent as many as 1,125 injuries annually".

    I don't want to get all Tyler Durden, but are there more effective ways of spending all that money? e.g. road improvements or driver education and law enforcement?

    • Usual benchmark for $/life saved is about $6 million, although might be higher in this case, since the lives saved are likely to be disproportionately children, so more years of life saved/lost, so more $/life. So, the saved lives are around $100 million. Depending on the severity of the injuries, $800k each doesn't seem that absurd. Still, does seem like a bit of a stretch to say that it's the best way to do this.

  • Given the enormous amount of people dying from car related accidents, 13 - 15 is a statistically insignificant number of deaths and injuries prevented already. The actual number that it will achieve is probably lower, since people already have plenty of options to check what and who is behind their vehicle before backing up. Having a rear view camera and a screen isn't going to help a lot here, since people will mostly ignore that just as much as their rear view mirrors and their surroundings as they are ap
  • by countach ( 534280 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @08:55AM (#46629437)

    It's that time of year again on Slashdot.

  • So now everybody buying a car or light truck will be saddled with an additional cost. Is this to "save" the children? All... 14 a year? All 1,100 injuries a year? Or is it about over a $1B bottom line to some industry? Or is it just another excuse to medddle in our lives? More kids probably die eating pop tarts each year.

    The safety nannies are out of fucking control and it is high time they all were run over - without helmets of course.

  • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @09:09AM (#46629523)

    So, an average of 7 million cars sold each year.

    About half already have these cameras.

    Using the NHTSB estimates ($43 to upgrade models that already do backup cams to meet the new spec, $143 to put them in models that don't currently do that), we get an approximate cost to implement this mandate of $650 milllion annually.

    Which will prevent ~15 deaths per year, and ~1200 serious injuries.

    So, $40 million per death, or $$500,000 per injury. Seems to me it costs less than $500,000 to treat someone for an injury, so I'm not sure how this is going to "save money".

    And 15 deaths is so trivial as to be ridiculous. Hell, we even have more measles deaths than that (60 on average, in years we don't have a massive outbreak like this year)....

    • All it takes is to prevent one fender bender for every 20 cameras or so, and they will pay for themselves. That's where the money savings comes in, not with the medical costs associated with running over a kid. Think more small scale. My wife's minivan has one, and I know I sure as shit wouldn't want to back one up that didn't have it, especially when the back window is obscured with a large load.
  • by neorush ( 1103917 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @09:14AM (#46629549) Homepage
    Our rearview camera is completely useless about 70% of the time, as the snow and mud almost always have it covered unless you physically get out of the car and clean it off. But good thing for this, lets make cars even more expensive for average joe just trying to get by.
    • But good thing for this, lets make cars even more expensive for average joe just trying to get by.

      So, you bought the industry whining that mandating these cameras would add hundreds of dollars to the cost of a vehicle. Maybe on some other planet where cell phones haven't made both screens and lenses insanely cheap.

      Did you also moan about how seat belts were going to make cars soooo much more expensive for the "average joe"? If not, why not?

  • by Dcnjoe60 ( 682885 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @09:15AM (#46629557)

    Here is the problem, backup cameras only work if you aren't distracted or preoccupied and actually look at the screen. Now, if people are currently distracted and preoccupied so they fail to look at the rear view mirror, why would anybody expect the backup camera to be any better? This is just an example of passing regulations that appear to do something but really don't. And it is expensive!

    In the US about 15M new cars are sold each year. Assuming the manufactures add a backup camera at cost, which would be $100, that will cost consumers $1.5B. Of course the manufactures won't add it at cost and most likely will be between $500 - $1000 per vehicle, which now raises the annual consumer cost to $7.5B - $15B per year or about $1B for every person killed each year.

    The assumption with all of this, for it to work, is that the driver will first check the video screen before backing up. If they aren't checking their side and rear view mirrors, why would anybody expect them to check the screen? Even if they do, it only shows them what is behind them at the moment they are looking, unless the expectation is they are going to keep their eyes focused on the screen during the entire backing up, which of course means, they can't be watching for traffic, it still won't protect against the child/person who steps behind the vehicle once it is moving.

    I guess the only good news about all of this is that they didn't mandate an interlock system where the car would not back up if it thought something or someone was in the way. That would have been even more costly, but at least it would have a chance of saving the .01% of the people that might be killed by a new car backing up. But, as long as the safety system relies on the driver to make sure things are clear, it really doesn't make much difference if there is a camera or a mirror and expecting it to, is wishful thinking.

  • I heard an official on the radio state is was 'only' a couple hundred dollars more on the price of a car. F*** you, poor people!
  • by Catbeller ( 118204 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @09:26AM (#46629637) Homepage

    Keep it simple stupid - an engineering principle that has been tossed out forever.

    Another damned piece of electronics that will fail in less than seven years. Another piece of electronic junk with a thousand dollar replacement or repair price tag (dealer cost to you). More damned code that can fail. More maintenance costs. More power consumption. More holes in the shell to let rust in. Tech lust as engineering.

    Geeze, let's not use a MIRROR. My side view mirror was just torn off by a speed-crazed yuppie - it cost me 23 bucks to replace it, good as new, from an eBay vendor. Shipping included.

    the idea is to make damned sure that no new car will have a lifetime greater than seven to ten years. New cars, new debt without end. Cars as smart phones - unrepairable. Toss 'em out and get a new one will be the only option. The used car market will slowly shrivel and finally die when the last repairable car gets totaled.

  • "An estimated 13 to 15 deaths and 1,125 injuries may be prevented with the implementation of this new requirement."

    Assuming people will actually use their backup cameras. If they can't be bothered with looking behind them or even using their rear view mirrors now, why should we think they will look at their backup cameras in the future?

  • by mordred99 ( 895063 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @09:31AM (#46629683)

    Here is the problem from an implementation stand point (which I think others have the "should this be done" covered in previous posts). Right now most vehicles have two radio systems in it. One is the "el cheapo" and the "whole enchilada" which usually costs a grand more with a screen and everything else. What is going to happen is that now cars are going to come mandatory with the screen and thus the "choice" for a cheaper car will be taken away from the drivers, thus making the car another 1000 dollars because they have to implement this with a crappy business model.

    I don't know at the end of the day if everyone will implement in this style, but now days there is a race to the bottom for cars in terms of price and options so that they can hit a price point. When government mandates came about the last time (in the 1996-1998 era), requiring anti-lock brakes, traction control, and dual air bags, cars got expensive (like 2-3k more expensive) immediately. I foresee the same thing happening here.

  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @10:32AM (#46630183)
    It interests me when the geek rejects tech he doesn't fully understand --- but his grandparents adopted as soon as it became available for their light trucks and RVs.

    Infrared Night Vision

    This is probably one of the least understood features available, and yet, it is one of the most important features. Although a high quality camera (especially a high quality CCD camera) can provide a picture under a wide variety of lighting conditions (including very low light), it can't provide a clear picture in near or total darkness. That's where the infrared night vision illumination LEDs (light emitting diodes) come in.

    On a high quality night vision equipped camera, the infrared LEDs turn on automatically whenever the ambient (background) light drops to a level that's too low for the image sensor to produce a high quality picture. The infrared LEDs operate at a light frequency that is well beyond the human eye's ability to see, but the image sensor in the camera is designed to detect this light just like the visible light that we can see.

    One big difference between a high quality rear view camera and a lower quality one, is its ability to illuminate the area seen by the camera. Ideally, the infrared illuminators will illuminate the entire field of view produced by the camera, and will illuminate out to a distance of at least 20 feet from the camera. The higher end cameras will typically illuminate out to a distance of 30 to 50 feet from the camera.

    Automatic System Switching

    Possibly the most important feature to look for when purchasing a rear view camera system, is that system's ability to switch on automatically whenever the vehicle's transmission is placed in reverse. This is accomplished by connecting a single wire to the vehicle's backup light circuit, sending a signal to the rear view camera system, causing it to switch on without any action by the operator.

    Wide Angle Field of View

    The field of view provided by any camera is determined by a combination of image sensor size and lens focal length. The larger the image sensor, the wider the possible field of view. However, a larger image sensor does not necessarily guarantee a wider field of view. Many rear view camera systems utilize a 1/4" image sensor and provide only a 60 to 90 degree field of view. While a 90 degree field of view may be sufficient for some smaller vehicles, a 120 degree field of view is strongly preferred. You should absolutely avoid any system that produces lower than a 90 degree field of view. Most high quality rear view cameras that utilize a 1/3" image sensor and produce a 120 degree field of view --- that is ideal for most applications.

    On the other hand, there are some rear view systems advertised with fields of view as wide as 210 degrees. These super wide field of view cameras are not intended for use on rear view camera systems, and will generally produce a 'fish-eye' image that will be extremely distorted and very dangerous to use.

    Mirror Image Capability

    A rear view camera system should have the capability to produce a 'mirror' (or 'reverse') image through the camera and/or monitor.

    Why do you want a 'mirror' image? In order to see the same type of image that you would see in a rear view mirror, the camera and/or monitor must be capable of reversing the image produced. This capability will provide the same type of image through a rear view camera system that you would see if you were looking into a rear view mirror, and that's exactly what you want for safe operation.

    Audio Monitoring

    Audio capability can be helpful when the driver needs the assistance of a helper while backing. While you may or may not require audio, it can also be useful when a camera is being used to monitor the interior of a trailer (carrying people or animals).


  • by DigiTechGuy ( 1747636 ) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @07:26PM (#46644459)

    The only reason this government mandate came about is because of other government mandates, namely safety mandates on newer vehicles that eliminate rear visibility. I drive 80s trucks and 60s cars. Excellent visibility all around. Aside from a few fastback body styles which limit blind spot visibility, but even that is much better than most new cars I've been in.

    New cars have very high door panels, and thick/wide A/B/C pillars making windows much smaller. There are also front seat head restraints, and in the past few years rear seat head restraints as well. Good luck seeing anything out the tiny windows past that maze of DOT/government mandated view blocking devices. Now check out those tiny side view mirrors they use these days, virtually useless. To make matters worse the glass is curved to magnify the image, give a narrower field of view in an already tiny mirror! I feel claustrophobic and blind in the rare event I drive my girlfriend's fairly new car. Believe it or not she doesn't bother turning her head when changing lanes, and I kind of understand why... You can't see a damn thing looking over your shoulder anyhow. None of my fastbacks were ever that bad and they didn't even have mirrors on the passenger side, and not once did it ever occur to me to desire one on that side as it simply wasn't necessary in a vehicle you can see out of.

    The problem is government induced. Government mandates safety "features" that people don't want (if they were cars would be offered with those features and sell well), those safety features result in limited visibility in all directions. With limited visibility in all directions, especially behind, pedestrian strikes increase. Government mandates more things people don't necessarily want.

    This reminds me of the government interference in the 70s. Government mandates safety features, which tremendously increase the weight of cars reducing MPG. Then they mandate emissions requirements, which greatly reduced MPG. Then they mandate MPG requirements... etc... In 1960 economy cars were getting 32+ MPG and selling well. What was the problem? People had a choice of whether to buy the small car that gets good MPG, looks nice, has decent power, and so forth, or big a bigger less efficient car which had great power, looked good, etc. The problem was choice, so government outlawed choice and the free market and the result was small cars that got low MPG and were hideous.

Today is the first day of the rest of your lossage.