(TOKYO, Japan, UPI) Honda Motors announced today that it is experimenting with a device to deal with the problem of drunken driving. It consists of a specially-treated platinum alloy disc which, when fitted in the center of the steering wheel, detects the presence of alcohol on the breath of the driver, causing a relay to be actuated which prevents the car from starting. A prototype is under construction and will be tested shortly. Honda did not say what would happen if someone else in the car, say a mother-in-law in the back seat, had been drinking. They did say that results of their test would be announced as soon as available.
Well, I guess it had to come sometime. In this age of Total Nervousness the car that comments on the personal habits of its driver was a logical development. Not that I'm in any way, shape or form an advocate of drunken driving. On the contrary, I agree with any judge who nails a guy who's been lappin' up the soup and kicking around 400 mean horsepower in addition. It's just that being told by your strobe-striped, hardtop GT that you've made a horse's ass of yourself smacks of further evils to come. Why stop with drunken driving, I say? How far can this thing go?
For example, how about battling with the wife? I would like to know the statistics on that one. Just how many guys have powdered a safety island right in the middle of making the final crushing point in a screaming argument with the old lady over why the hell he acted like he did at his sister-in-law's house last night? With neck bulging, eyeballs popping, he screams "Goddammit, I never could stand that stupid broad even though she is your sis ... "
Okay, Nader, how you gonna handle that one? After the Martini Meter has been installed universally and the accident rate continues to go up, no doubt someone, after an immensely expensive national survey will come to the conclusion that there are a hell of a lot of ways to prang a Buick that don't involve drinking at all. I can see a headline a few years from now:
(ZAGREB Yugoslavia, Reuters) The Zotz Motorwerken announced today that a new device to detect excessive battling in the car will be tested. The Uproar Meter, as it has been termed, is now in prototype and the results will be announced shortly. It consists of a sound-sensitive diaphragm which, when subjected to excessive yelling, cuts out the ignition thereby immobilizing the car. Naturally, after the installation of both the Martini Meter and the Uproar Meter accidents will continue to climb and statistics will soar. Nader will be nonplussed momentarily but investigations into the causes will continue at spiraling expense. It will then be discovered that large numbers of accidents occur due to guys dozing off behind the wheel. This phenomenon does not necessarily result from a simple lack of sleep. For example, it is a well known fact that large numbers of people find themselves totally unable to remain conscious in a geometry class in spite of 22 hours sleep the day before. It is a well known fact that many brains today are permanently in a state of vegetation bordering on catatonic sleep due to a prolonged overdose of unbroken steady Hard Rock. For example, consider the future driver hunched over the wheel of his LDX 1750 Zotzmobile, sober as a judge. In fact, he has refrained from drinking for 48 hours before taking the wheel, fully conscious that his car is watching him at all times. He is driving alone since he knows that taking a passenger with him may activate his Uproar Meter. He nervously hunches over the wheel, conscious that at any moment the Zotz may pull the plug on him. Boredom sneaks in. He flips on the radio: ". . . and I say to you, Senator Dubbleman, that the people of this country are now embarking on a sensitivity-awakening phase which will ultimately result in . . . "
"Just a moment, Susskind. Or can I call you Dave? Just the other day I was talking to Bella Abzug about that very thing, and as Arthur Schlesinger put it ... "
INVESTIGATING COMMISSION DISCOVERS BOREDOM CAUSE OF MANY ACCIDENTS. We are off again. Nader's Raiders embark on an anti-boredom crusade as accidents spiral once again. Since it is well known that industry responds to the demands of the public, inevitably the following news item can be expected:
(ISFAHAN, Iran, AP) The Pahlevi Motor Corporation, Ltd. today announced the development of a Boredom Detector. Since boredom is a major cause of auto accidents it is hoped that their new device will prevent this from occurring in the future. It consists of a highly-sensitive microphone which instantly detects the slightest snoring and measures the drop in respiration rate by the use of two electrodes embedded in the seat back. Tests are now being conducted on the Ennui Unit which, if successful, will be mandatory in all cars of the future.
By the following year drivers of new cars, surrounded by Martini Meters, Boredom Detectors, Uproar. Meters, safety belts (which by then will automatically overpower and clamp the driver into his seat whether he likes it or not, grabbing him in an octopus-like grip actuated by Selsen Motors) will continue to smash themselves into oblivion with reckless abandon. New committees will be formed, especially those calling themselves "ad hoc." Crash programs will proliferate and once again Nader's crowd will ride full cry into the fray. Within two weeks of the delivery of the first new models so equipped the following will occur:
HE: You sure you haven't been drinking?
SHE: Not a drop for two weeks.
HE: Me either. Now, keep your voice low. We don't want no hassle. This baby is sensitive.
SHE: Don't worry. I feel nothing but kind thoughts for the world.
HE: If you start feeling bored, fer Chrissake lemme know.
SHE: Don't worry, I'm on my toes, alert. (They hum along nicely for several minutes.)
HE: Hey baby, you know there's something about the way them streetlights light up your profile that just . . . well . . . Boy!
SHE: You're cute too, Harold.
HE: Your skin is like vanilla yoghurt, your eyes like . . . just one little kiss!!
SHE: Oh, Harold!
HE: Oh, Marsha!
SHE: Oh, Har . . .
SEX DETERMINED MAJOR CAUSE OF AUTO CRASHES. (WASHINGTON, D.C., UPI) The Ad Hoc Concerned Committee of Involved Citizens For Auto Safety reported today to public safety czar Ralph Nader that their 26-month high initensity field investigation of auto accidents has come to the conclusion that 43.9% of crashes today are caused by, as the committee put it, 'Amorous misadventures.' Nader promised immediate action.
Which, in due course, will be followed by: (SPITSBERGEN Svalbard, UPI) Norgemot, the Scandinavian Motor Combine released today a report on its new Sex-0-Stat which is now being road tested. Consisting of a built-in blood pressure measuring device and an associated thermostatic heat detector which reacts to the sudden increase in body heat due to sexual excitement, the combined unit is known as a Sex-0-Stat. When blood pressure and body temperature rise to a dangerous point the Sex-0-Stat shuts down the engine, rendering it harmless. If successful, it will be mandatory on all future cars.
Stone sober, icy calm, alert and gelded, within a month of the delivery of their new Norgemot XD/712 Zuds, two drivers, Anton Klautski, 67, of Glendale, California and A. J. (Bucky) Whippersnade, 19; of West Peapack, New Jersey, will have both mysteriously splattered themselves and their Zuds over their respective turnpikes.
AGE CRUCIAL FACTOR IN ACCIDENT RISE, COMMISSION FINDS. Worldwide statistics prove conclusively that an overwhelming number of accidents of a fatal nature are caused by drivers under the age of 31 and over 44. Accident rates for those under 30 statistically soar, says the report, and are matched only by those drivers over 44. The conclusion is obvious, the report went on. Secretary of Safety Nader expressed his deep concern and promised immediate legislation. Inevitably followed by:
(NAIROBI _Kenya, UPI) Kenya Kars, Inc. today-startled the auto world with its new Chron-0-Stop, a revolutionary device which instantly detects the chronological age of the would-be driver. Consisting of a microscopic needle embedded in the ignition key it takes a minute blood sample of the driver. Through a computerized analyzer it measures the calcium deposit in the bone joints of the subject, placing the age accurately It is believed that this device will supersede the new Radium 14 age detection system that was announced by Formosa Motors last month. The Radium 14 method, while accurate, tended to cause leukemia in its users. The new device will be mandatory in all upcoming models.
In spite of the continuing proliferation of safety devices, insurance rates will rise and people will die like flies on the highways, causing consternation on every side. Three days after his new Kenyan Crocoblast hardtop was delivered, 36-year-old abstaining, non-amatory, completely calm, clear-eyed Marty Bugleblast was tooling along US 66 at the ready. He turned to his friend Max and said the following:
MARTY: You know, Max, it is a fact that Republicans represent the Establishment and big business, and I, for one .. .
MAX: Now hold on, Marty. You bleeding hearts that call yourselves Democrats ain't got no sense of realism.
MARTY: Realism, boy what a joke! You guys just last year alone . . . "
POLITICS LARGE ROLE IN ACCIDENTS. National statistics bear out suspicions voiced recently by President Nader that registered Democrats are involved in a far more significant number of accidents than Republicans. In fact, 74.4% of fatalities in the last calendar year were participated in by Democrats, the National Underwriters publication WHY? charged yesterday. Senator G. L. Fignewton (Rep., Mont.) demanded immediate Congressional action. President Nader promised his unqualified support.
Naturally, industry will immediately swing into action and within a short time will produce its infallible Pol-0-Graph based on the hitherto undiscovered fact that Democrats are of a specific physical type and perspire more copiously than Republicans - although less than Communists. The instrument, based on rate of perspiration, will infallibly prevent those of dubious political affiliation from operating any machine on any of the world's highways.
Within weeks after the first politically safe, age-proof, bourbonless, sexless, non-agitated machine appears on the nation's highways, the inevitable will occur. Just outside of Erie, Pennsylvania, under good conditions, 32-year-old Agatha Schoonmutter, a schoolteacher, a non-drinking virgin Quaker pacifist, member of no known political party, while driving with her friend Helena Camembert is involved in the following:
AGATHA: Did you notice how fat Clarice is getting? And she's so catty! Sometimes I can't stand the way she shows off about that so-called man of hers.
HELENA: Oh, him! What I Couldn't tell her about him, if f wanted to!
AGATHA: Really? Come on, how about the dirt. I won't breathe it to a soul.
HELENA: (lowering her voice to a whisper): Well, just listen to this. The other night, who do you think I saw coming out of the Pig And Whistle? With this busty, blowsy-looking blonde!
AGATHA (Drinking in every word): Really! Well, I can hardly wait to tell . . ."
NATIONAL SCANDAL! FATAL ACCIDENTS HIGHEST IN HISTORY. Again, graphs, charts, door-to-door inquiries, actuarial tables, go into full swing.
WOMEN LEAD MEN 2-1 IN FATAL ACCIDENTS. Statistics proved a startling fact yesterday before the Senate Investigating Committee headed by Rep. Harold J. Upshaw of Rhode Island. 'We have to face the fact at last that women far outnumber men in fatal crashes,' he stated before television reporters today. President Nader, when informed, issued an immediate Presidential decree banning women from the road.
Again the battered nation sighs with relief, believing fully that, at last, the accidents that have plagued drivers since the days of Barney Oldfield have been all but eliminated. Alas, within eight hours of the new legislation 36 more catastrophic accidents occur in scattered parts of the nation. By the following week it is realized that accidents are still on the rise. After seven weeks of deliberation at the Princeton Institute For Higher Thinking, a top-level conclave of scientists, writers, artists, engineers, doctors, and the coaches of the two leading professional football teams in the NFL, issue the following bulletin:
(PRINCETON, N.J., UPI) After reviewing all available material and only after consulting with all known experts from around the world, we have determined that in every case of fatal crash a person was involved. President Nader today made his position clear. He banned all human beings from automobiles under penalty of life imprisonment.