Better Than ASS

  • May 19, 2024

Almost every vehicle made since about five years ago comes standard with Automatic Stop/Start “technology,” or ASS – ostensibly, in order to “save gas.” The engine shuts off whenever the vehicle isn’t moving, such as when you’re stopped for a red light. The system then automatically turns the engine back on when the drive takes his foot off the brake and pushes on the accelerator.

It does save a little gas – at the cost of reduced starter battery battery life and the unpleasantness of the engine shutting itself off and being re-started perhaps a dozen or more times in the course of a single morning’s drive to work.

Legalizing the California Stop would save more gas – and wear and tear – at no cost at all. Except, of course, to the government – which would lose the “revenue” (i.e., the money they extort via threats and intimidation) collected by its agents (people have been conditioned to call them “police”) who write “tickets” (these are the extortion notes handed out by the agents) for not coming to a complete stop at every stop sign, even when there’s no sound reason to do so,

Only a legal requirement to do so.

Getting a vehicle – which is a vey heavy thing – moving again after it has come to a complete stop takes energy; which is another way of saying it burns gas. More gas than just idling the engine while the vehicle sits at a red light. Probably more gas than is “saved” by shutting off the idling engine for the 90 seconds or so wait while the light cycles from red to green and the traffic gets moving again.

Coming to a complete and unnecessary stop only to avoid getting a “ticket” – and because it’s “the law” – also accelerates wear on the clutch (if the vehicle has a manual transmission) and the brakes and the tires. This wear could be reduced – and gas consumption decreased  – if it were legal to not have to come to a complete stop at every stop sign, just because there’s a stop sign.

And maybe a cop, too.

If, that is, drivers were delegated the responsibility of exercising their judgment – as opposed to being presumed incapable of doing that responsibly. The latter being the reason backing the legal requirement that drivers must always come to a complete stop at every stop sign, even those posted at four-ways in the desert where the presence or absence of any potential cross-traffic is visible (or not) for miles in any direction.

Because it’s “the law.”

Because it doesn’t matter – to “the law” – whether there’s any reason to stop. Other than it being “the law.” That is to say, because “the law” is arbitrary. Because reason does not matter, to “the law” – nor to the agents who enforce it.

This tells us that “saving gas” doesn’t really matter.

Because if it did, reason would persuade “the law” – those who write “the laws” – that a not-trivial savings could be achieved at no cost at all by legalizing the California Stop when conditions permit. That is to say, when it is not necessary to come to a complete stop to avoid cross-traffic. This can be ascertained via the exercise of – here comes that dangerous thing again called judgment.

People – which means everyone – cannot be trusted with the responsibility of looking to see whether there is cross-traffic and whether, accordingly, it is necessary to come to a complete stop before proceeding.

People – which means everyone – must be presumed incapable of making a judgment based on the situation because some people might not be.

It is another etiolation of the disease of Safetysim, which is based on the assumption in law that everyone and everything is unsafe. Irrespective of the particular facts in a particular situation. That’s why it’s no defense – either by the side of the road or, later, in court – if you point out that there was no need to come to a complete stop because it was clear there was no cross-traffic and for that reason, safe to proceed without coming to a complete stop. The agent who issued you the ticket can concede the point in court and it will not affect the court’s ruling. You are guilty of having disregarded “the law” – and that is all that matters, in court.

It is the same as regards making a right-on-red when it’s safe – and you caused no harm – but “the law” says it’s prohibited. And when you drive faster than whatever “the law” says is the maximum legal speed.

“Safety” has nothing to do with it – other than as a pretextual hypothetical. Those who write and enforce “the law” will say you might pull out in front of another car and cause an accident. Or you might drive too fast for conditions – or your skill – and not be able to stop in time to avoid being the cause of an accident.

Anything is possible – and that’s true, of course. It’s also a problem if you believe in liberty – as well as “saving gas” and reducing unnecessary wear and tear – because when it is conceded that anything is possible, someone might make an unsafe right-on-red or California Stop into cross traffic and you’ve agreed in principle that everyone should be disallowed from doing it. Even when it’s safe to do so.

If it saves even one life . . . 

An actual would be preferable, in terms of holding people responsible for their exercise of judgment. If you make an unsafe right-on-red by pulling out in front of another car that runs into your car on account of it, you ought to be held responsible for that. Just the same as the person who fails to come to a complete stop when it is necessary, as when there is cross-traffic present.

But it’s insulting and dangerous to presume no one is capable of exercising judgment responsibly – and on that basis one-size-fits-all’ing everyone into the same presumptively irresponsible box of deplorables.

Not to mention all that gas that’s being wasted for no good reason.

. . .

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