California taxes made him flee
Regarding your April 14 story, 'CARB-backed EV promises 150-mile range,' I fail to see why my gasoline, sales or property taxes should be used for a California Air Resources Board contribution to another electric-vehicle project.
I once calculated all the direct and indirect taxes in California and concluded that I paid about $5.35 per gallon in indirect taxes for my gasoline.
The taxes included the 9.3 percent income tax (11 percent in 1991-94), 8.25 percent sales tax, $1 for each daily bridge crossing and 50 cents per gallon gasoline pump tax when the 10 cents per gallon indirect tax of oxygenated fuel is included.
Also, transit subsidies, annual windshield damage from load dumps by construction trucks, tires and alignment repairs because of unrepaired roads, higher electricity and natural gas costs to subsidize CARB, double auto insurance costs to pay for uninsured drivers. And the list goes on.
As you can see from the address, our retirement home escapes the California tax-and-spend policy.
JOSEPH J. NEFF
The writer is retired. He was chief engineer of Peterbilt Motors Division of Paccar Inc.
Make the driver responsible
The continuing dialogue on airbags and the federal government's efforts to cover itself when caught red-handed with a problem of its own making makes my blood boil.
In the early 1970s, automakers warned of the problem of unbelted children being hurled through the back windows of vehicles by passenger airbags.
What really scares me now is the possibility of mechanics being able to deactivate airbags at the owner's request. Lawyers will try to protect dealers and manufacturers from lawsuits because bags were deactivated, but anyone familiar with the world outside the Beltway knows that the necessary documentation will never stay with the vehicle through subsequent owners.
All the efforts of lawyers to protect industry entities will be in vain. Just look at the suits brought against manufacturers and dealers for not installing airbags in the 1970s and 1980s when they were not required. The new suits will blame the makers, dealers and mechanics for following the owners' orders.
What is needed is a retrofit switch that will enable the driver to deactivate when necessary. It might be a two-step procedure: The vehicle would not start until another button was pushed.
That procedure would have to be followed each time the vehicle was started, unless the driver were to leave the system active. It would put the safety burden on the driver, rather than on the manufacturer, the dealer or the government.
The best system yet devised is the three-point safety belt, but insurance companies don't have the nerve to tell policy holders that they will not pay claims of unbelted people.
The ultimate answer is to make the driver responsible for his or her own actions.
P.T. HASKELL JR.
The writer is a consultant.
Jeep: Great name, short on product
I need your thoughts. With the sport-utility market expanding as rapidly as it is, why does Chrysler Corp. fail to expand one of the best trade names in the world? Jeep sport-utilities. Jeep trucks. Jeep cars.
Chrysler has demonstrated its capacity to produce great vehicles. It has one of the best trade names in the industry and very little product.
Chrysler keeps placing product with Plymouth in an effort to revive the brand. I guess I'm a little slow - I still believe it's easier to go downhill than uphill.