According to this piece, 46% of drivers cannot decipher the government mandated “idiot-proof” low tire-pressure warning light.
The problem isn’t with the drivers. The problem is the removal of market forces. Granted, no one is going to refuse to buy a particular car because they don’t understand a random warning light. However, manufacturers have a vested interest in conveying warnings to their consumers in the most efficient, easily understood manner. Achieving wide-spread understanding of the information being conveyed prevents both injury-related lawsuits and bad publicity. Both lawsuits and bad publicity generally have a far greater impact on a car company’s bottom-line than do government fines. By mandating which symbols must be used, responsibility is effectively lifted from manufacturers and incentives to find the best solution vanish. After all, when some tragedy strikes due to a driver’s inability to decode this warning light, manufacturers have the ultimate get-out-of-jail-free card; “We were just obeying the law.”