Where are all the other mandates?


Regarding Keith Crain’s “The feds design vehicles” (July 31): In public health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not prescribe, under threat of penalty, a date by which pharmaceutical companies shall produce a drug to immunize against a certain disease. Medicare or other government insurers do not prescribe a date, under threat of penalty, by which doctors and hospitals shall guarantee patients a cure for a particular ailment.

With cars, it’s different: “You will meet the emission standards or pay a fine”; “Regardless of age or usage, you will replace the explosive airbags (even though we prescribed them).”

While some oversight is appropriate, dictating what the engineering community shall invent and by when, under penalty of law, is irregular if not over the top. Why is government at war with the auto industry, anyway? Better would be a government-industry joint effort to ensure either that targets are met or determine that it would be impractical to do so, and to verify compliance of the latest generation of vehicles.

A joint program would go a long way to eliminating incorrect mileage promises, failure to meet emissions standards, recalls for component failures and potential safety defects. Technology makes collecting data practical and easy.

In the VW scandal, failure to detect noncompliance sooner bares a defect in the system and reflects poorly on our regulators. Averting that dreadful piece of history would have been worth whatever it cost!

CHRISTOPHER G. MacDERMOT, Schenectady, N.Y. The writer, who is retired, was chief mechanical officer for D&H Railway Co.