Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Lawsuits on the Road to Perdition

File #1: You Can’t Crash This

Yeah, I know. We're not too far off from the self-driving car. Today’s Camry pilots will someday get to sit in a circle and play Parcheesi all the way to Poughkeepsie. Today’s Mustang and GTI drivers might be permitted to mix with this New Roadway Order, though possibly with the same public stigma that smokers currently enjoy.

But in the meantime -- and by "meantime" I mean the several decades it will take to meld tech, infrastructure, and humans into roadway harmony -- it would be great if the manufacturers at the forefront of driver aids would quit telling drivers that their cars will keep them safe from running into stuff.

I'm talking to you, Mercedes-Benz.

See, most automakers are developing protect-us-from-ourselves tech nowadays, but you're the only manufacturer who in advertising that tech appears, as it was so popular to say on the internet years back, to be smoking crack.

There's this little matter of your TV ad with the smirky brunette being safely shepherded out of The Valley of the Shadow of Demolition Derby Jalopies by the collision avoidance tech in your M-Class, see.

This is time-tested advertising hyperbole that works when you're trying to exaggerate some whimsical vehicle characteristic like speed or status, but is possibly a terrible idea when you're exaggerating your car's ability to intervene in life or death matters. To make matters worse, in a gift to attorneys the world over, your ever-liquidy-smooth Mersnooties Voiceover Guy (yeah ... talkin’ ta you, John Hamm) intones, "It’s almost like it couldn’t crash even if it tried."

Challenge accepted, said the man on the street, who is reporting back on internet forums even as we blog.

I know. The Internet, right? But some of it might be true.

There's a fellow on one forum who reports that the Collision Prevention Assist on his CLA didn't work very well when he accelerated and changed lanes into the back of a stopped car at a red light.

And another fellow in another CLA was left scratching his head and looking for clues from his web forum friends after he ran into a delivery truck on a blind left turn.

(OK ... bad sample, these CLAs, which appear to be driven mainly by fly 20-somethings still living in their parents’ McMansions and learning about the whole Driving Thing on the side).

Not to worry too much about these anecdotal crackups.  It's up to society to worry about keeping these cretins off the road, but you, Mercedes, should be worried about giving them a trademarked and heavily-advertised reason to wonder about whether the car brand that couldn't get in a collision if it wanted to has failed them ... not to mention those attorneys above, who never met a gray area they couldn't turn into black ink.

By all means, Merc, make your cars crash-proof. But don’t advertise them as crash-proof, because America’s roadways are full of drivers who are far more clever than the sum of your all-time engineering brain trust, including the department who solved the problem of seats that don’t massage and squirt vanilla lavender.

This is America, Freidbeitch, and if you advertise cars that almost can’t crash but do crash, you’re gonna get sued.

File #2 A Biblical Homage to Information at Your Fingertips ... and a Steering Wheel for if you get Bored

In the Beginning there was Tire Hum, Wind, and Engine Clatter. But the Road Gods deemed that road-going drone should have a partner, so the Road Gods created radios. Radios begat tape decks, which begat CDs, MP3s, and then melodies from above the firmament.

And the Road Gods looked and listened and said it was good, or at least better than listening to Aunt Millie go on about her cataract surgery.

Then everything you wanted to know about anyone and anything anywhere came to pass. It transfixed the populace and became very portable. It displayed news, weather, and eventually the unexplainably fashionable large butt of an unexplainably fashionable woman named Kardashian.

The Road Gods paid this news no heed, because, you know, Road Gods, right?

Alas, Markup, son of Optional Extra, was casting about one day in the village of Dumbasscus, fretting that after multi-color footwell lighting there was truly nothing new under the sun. Markup's daughter Upsell heard her father's grumbling and that evening stole away to the house of Zuckergates and lain with Mark IV, offspring of Mark I, and soon a child was born. The child was named ADDin, who would grow into a vehicle of equal parts windscreen and touchscreen, so that now you could drive down the road wondering if the large ass in front of you was a jacked pickup truck viewed from your windscreen or Kim Kardashian’s fiancé viewed from your dash-mounted touchscreen.

The marketchangers in Dumbasscus drank wine and celebrated this child for a fortnight, and soon messengers were sent to the distant villages heralding the coming of the twin screens displaying the right-in-front-of-you-asses and the out-in-Hollywood-asses. But, hark! ... the Road Gods looked upon this splitting of the asses as an abomination, and caused the same nitwits who were killing themselves looking at their phones instead of the road to kill themselves by looking at dash-mounted Instagrams of Applebee’s entrees, monkeys peeing on each other, and other stuff.

And from high on the mountaintops and low in the valleys came a great flood of certified mail and press releases from the firms of Bottomfeeder & Shitkowitz, et al. ... and all of them said, “You’re gonna get sued.”

I am the Car Czar, and I'm here to help.

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