I don't care whether automobile manufacturers build or their dealers order cars with 10 speakers and the latest video system. If the customer wants them, order them and stock them.
But I am becoming uncomfortable with the notion that manufacturers and dealers sell cars and trucks without available life-saving features. If safety features are just options, how can you choose not to have them on your entire inventory?
Automakers and their suppliers have done a fantastic job of developing remarkable systems that can prevent accidents, prevent serious injury and save lives.
But there is something wrong with the idea that I'm offering this life-saving feature as an option and if dealers decide that no one would pay for it, they won't order it for inventory.
So customers are left to buy millions of vehicles a year without the latest life-saving devices.
Sure, you can argue about giving customers a choice about purchasing those devices. But in the real world, most customers don't want to buy anything they can't see.
If it were up to the customers, many would save the money and pick vehicles with plate glass windows and no seat belts or airbags or side-impact barriers or antilock brakes or any of the other devices that save lives every day.
And that doesn't give the second and third owners much of a choice, either.
How much is a life worth?
Well, there are plenty of studies that will assess a value. But the fact is that in America, we're killing more than 40,000 people a year with automobiles, and that's far too many.
All safety-related devices should become standard equipment on all vehicles. No choice. It's not an economic decision; it's a moral decision. When the choice becomes profits vs. lives, the decision should be simple.
This is why the automobile industry has such low credibility. It would rather leave it up to federal agencies such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to mandate standards so no automaker worries that a feature makes it uncompetitive. That's why we have NHTSA in the first place.
If an automobile company has side airbags, install them on all vehicles. If an automobile company has a stability-control system available, install it on all vehicles.
For once, let's forget about profits and be on the side of safety.