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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/13620/decoding-government-warnings/

Decoding Government Warnings

August 18, 2010 by

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.”

{ 22 comments }

Greg August 18, 2010 at 1:24 pm

To me, that symbol looks like a train coming down a tunnel towards me. I wonder if anyone has had an accident while looking quizically at this safety warning.

htran August 18, 2010 at 2:04 pm

It honestly looks like an old-fashioned lamp to me… Perhaps my headlights are out? :-D

Junk Science Skeptic August 18, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Since when has compliance with all regulations and standards been a remotely viable defense when trial lawyers and deep pockets are involved?

Marco August 18, 2010 at 3:28 pm

It looks like a butt.

Don’t shoot the messenger.

Federal Farmer August 18, 2010 at 5:09 pm

It reminds me of a pot on the stove… I would probably stop and get something at a drive-thru if the light suddenly popped on.

Ernie Gurzler August 18, 2010 at 6:30 pm

I actually had this light flash at me in a rental car, when I got to my destination I pulled out the car manual and looked at the section on the instrument panel. That’s when I found out it was a low pressure warning. I walked around the car and looked for a soft tire and could not find one. Why not include some text like:
Tire Pressure?

J. Murray August 18, 2010 at 7:00 pm

To me, it tells the driver they’re a “victim” of an unplanned pregnancy.

David August 18, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Americans Are Smarter Than I Am

Forty-six percent of people know that the symbol in the article represents low tire pressure? First time for everything: I had never taken a test in which forty-six percent of Americans beat me. Now I have. I can still list the five freedoms of the First Amendment, however. http://forumforeducation.org/node/147

JD August 18, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Hey, but now they’ve created jobs for “Tire Pressure Sensor” Manufacturers. Ain’t it Grand?

It’s like everybody works in concert for an opportunity granted by the “State”!

See what the Govt. through the State Monopolized Courts can do for the public!

I got that symbol down, but the warning lights in the foreign cars such as BMW, and Mercedes gets me. Huh???

I’ve used to run a Maint. shop for years, and it’s wonderful when checking a tire, and the stem which is the sensor breaks, from stress I suppose or bad design, and you have to explain that one to the customer. $70 later, Yeah, thats awesome! Seriously, through no malice by the tech. Just taking of the cap. Sounds crazy, but its true!

Automobiles have been ruined by govt. interference, as so many things have! Really pathetic!

Christopher August 19, 2010 at 11:28 am

The pressure warning is the result of a combination of incompetent drivers, poorly manufactured Firestone tires, and Ford recommending a below optimium tire pressure for the vehicle which the tires were mounted (Explorer).

If it weren’t for that fiasco then we wouldn’t have these warnings.

Don Lloyd August 18, 2010 at 11:33 pm

That’s not a tire pressure warning symbol, it’s a latching season change indicator.
In every car I’ve ever owned, the light illuminates on the first cold night in the Fall, and never turns off until the car is serviced or Inspected.

It ranks right up there with the automatic turn-signal canceller that randomly works half the time and the remote door lock ignition key that can’t be removed from the ignition w/o randomizing the lock state of the doors.

Regards, Don

Regards, Don

Nicholas Gray August 19, 2010 at 12:09 am

Something similar happens with street signs! If the state provides the signs, drivers think they don’t need to do any more. But if the state removes all those street safety signs, the drivers realise that they need to think for themselves, and so they have less accidents! Test this for yourself. Disable all those pesky indicator lights and headlights, and drive around town at night! I bet you’ll be more alert than usual! You’re not relying on the state to tell you what to do!

Adam Frost August 19, 2010 at 1:40 am

@Nicholas: I’m not even sure where to begin here. Should I begin with the fact that you seem to have completely missed the point of the article? How about the fact that you’re totally missing the point here, since I’m sure noone on this site is actually calling for “roads policy” either way? Or maybe the fact that they actually have tried eliminating road regulations in some places in europe and found that they reduced congestion and improved safety?

Nicholas Gray August 19, 2010 at 2:05 am

I know, Adam. the first part was to show that there seems to be a universal law that bureaucracy always complicates things- whether dashboard lights or road regulations. Private enterprise and individual drivers should be trusted, and not a new law or regulation.
Then i got creative, and my sense of humour overtook my reason. Some of the rules, like having working lights, are sensible, and should be kept. I am not going to insist on a libertarian right to not use headlights at night, just because I felt like it!

Sam August 19, 2010 at 6:13 am

Does this warning light come on during a blowout? It’s a silly icon. What happened to silver tire pressure gauges with the white stick in the center, and human eyeballs and. oh, common sense?

oma5 August 19, 2010 at 8:13 am

This darned light keeps coming on continuously in our car and the dealer’s mechanics have not been able to figure it out yet! This has been going on since we bought the car two years ago!!! Now we ignore it – just like we ignore fire alarm warning lights that are continuously flashing in our building and no-one seems to be able to figure out what’s causing them! And that’s just like everyone ignores car alarms that randomly go off around the neighborhood. Hrmph!

kelley September 12, 2010 at 12:25 am

check your spare

Augustine August 19, 2010 at 9:52 am

Maybe, just maybe, it’s got to do with the same “engineers” probably consulted about this were tempted to be do-gooders and impose state force through edicts. Here’s their resume: http://jalopnik.com/5615869/email-and-bacon-misinterpreting-your-cars-iconography/gallery/

Of course, doing this through an edict means that hell will freeze over before it can be corrected, unlike if it were left to the market.

PS: one of my cars have had this feature from before such an edict and, if a tire loses pressure, a message in English is displayed on a small screen in the instrument cluster.

Christopher August 19, 2010 at 11:22 am

Businesses deserve some protection from the stupid.

will August 19, 2010 at 2:56 pm

my 98 intrigue has a low tire pressure warning light. It actually flashes, “low tire pressure”

Bruce Koerber August 19, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Pull over immediately the baby is not going to wait until you get to the hospital!

kelley September 12, 2010 at 12:29 am

Does the term “idiot light” refer to the light itself, or the type of person that has the time to be outraged by it?

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