2/1/2003 | 2 MINUTE READ

Not All Legislation is Nuts

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Outside my window, a squirrel lays dead in the street.


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Outside my window, a squirrel lays dead in the street. Just moments ago, he was alive, vibrant, and care-free. Now he’s a smudge in a sea of asphalt. Cars, trucks, and dreaded SUVs pass around–or over–him as though his life meant nothing. But somewhere, and I fear not too far away, a young squirrel wife is making breakfast for her two adorable squirrel children, unaware that her husband won’t ever be coming home again.

I know what you’re thinking, but I’m not nuts–though some are strewn on the street below my window. Squirrels are people too, and their presence is important for the continued health of our fragile eco-system. Every squirrel that dies in a fatal encounter with a car is one less furry, four-legged friend. Something must be done to stop this insane carnage from decimating the squirrel population, tipping our eco-system into imbalance, and orphaning defenseless young squirrels!

That’s why I’m calling on the government to mandate automatically deployed mechanisms to redirect squirrels and other small animals away from vehicles, and toward the safety of the roadside. Sure, a squirrel passed on either side by vehicles equipped with these latest safety devices will be buffeted in one direction, then another like a puck on an NHL rink, but they will be safe and free to gather nuts.

I know what you’re thinking: “Sawyer is one of the nuts in need of gathering.” Not surprisingly, I disagree. I’ll admit that initial computer modeling has shown a nasty tendency for these devices to deploy inadvertently–or not at all–and there have been some (unconfirmed) cases of computer-generated humans losing the use of their feet through amputation, but I trust the engineering might of the world’s automakers and suppliers will overcome this minor problem. And, if they prove themselves unwilling, stringent legislation should focus their attention.

After all, didn’t they rise to the occasion and meet the various clean air and safety mandates of the past 30 years? Sure, it often took considerable delay while the technology caught up with the science, but the fact is, it happened. Yes, designing air bags to restrain an unbelted 200-lb, 95th percentile male dummy had the unfortunate side-effect of injuring, and in some cases killing, children and women of below average height, but the problem has been solved, hasn’t it? And if not fully resolved, then certainly it has been modified to such an extent that those calling for smart air bags and similar technology can declare victory. And that’s what’s really important.

I hope in the coming years to ride this cause to greater heights–and continued fame and employment–by advocating ever more aggressive additions to the original legislation, eventually calling for the inclusion of full force fields around every car and truck on the road. Then, and only then, will I be fulfilled. As for the effect this legislation will have on fuel economy, drivability, occupant safety, vehicle size, personal responsibility, driver performance, etc., I really don’t care. And if it causes the car companies to fall behind, you can bet I’ll be heading up that crusade as well.

After all, looking at the problem in “Big Picture” terms doesn’t get me anything, and bars my path toward hefty contingency fees and consumer advocate fame. You may not agree with my cause or see its importance, but I can assure I’m fighting for the little guy–30% of the settlement at a time.