• When I see an essay in this vein, I always think of motorcycles. Imagine how the conversation would go when the idea is presented:

    “How does it stay up? It will fall over.”
    “The motor is exposed. Someone will get burned.”

    I’m sure that no motorcycle could be produced today if the idea was a new presentation.

  • Of course.

    But, then again, the elevator is where it is today (as are motorcycles) as a result of all those deaths and injuries.

    Perhaps we should have some sort of limited liability (telling people that this is a new technology and there is a great chance of harm and, in exchange, the people use the product).

    I think there is a tension between innovation and safety.

    I like this blog, but I continue to be amazed that the authors exorcate the current system, but cannot propose another system that will achieve the laudible goals of less litigation and holding those who cause injuries responsible for their actions.

  • Allan, about your line ‘holding those who cause injuries responsible for their actions’….the law has gone way beyond that to where any accident or mechanical failure assigns blame to the deepest pocket available.

  • And the wheelchair ramp for the observation deck for the Empire State Building starts in Queens.

  • Jack,

    I would not disagree.

    But until we can get a happy medium, there is no solution. And without a proposal from the likes of Mr. Olson, there will be no solution.

  • Allan,

    Loser pays. This doesn’t seem to significantly limit people seeking retribution in nations where this system is used.

  • Allan, you say “the elevator is where it is today (as are motorcycles) as a result of all those deaths and injuries”.

    Are you claiming that ““How does it stay up? It will fall over.”
    “The motor is exposed. Someone will get burned.” are no longer true statements about the basic design of motorcycles?

    The above question is facetious, but we should bear in mind that motorcycle body work on models where it is used has nothing to do with protection from the hot engine, but is in fact used to make the motorcycle even more dangerous, IOW faster.

    Other than the ‘kill switch” and maybe the chain gaurd 100 years ago, I really can’t think of motorcycle safety improvements that might have been brought about in response to death and injuries. AFAIK, the kill switch may have been introduced for the safety of the motorcycle engine.
    Certainly motorcycles are much improved transporters than when introduced, but I see that as normal progress in transport technology as opposed to a design to lessen liability.

    Motorcycling is the most dangerous thing I do. I’m glad they are here for me to assume the risk.

  • If there had been no deaths or injuries, then there would have been no need for the safety improvements to the elevator and it would today work like it did 100 years ago with no problem.

  • An argument, Bill, that makes little sense. Had there been no injuries or death, there would have been no need for safety improvements.


  • Bob, that is what I was trying to get across.

  • Thinking about this further, there must ba a whole host of things that wouldn’t be allowed now if they hadn’t already been invented.

    Can you imagine the food regulators approving blue cheeses now?

  • I have wondered over the years what the environmental impact statement would have been for the Cape May light house. Would it have been blocked for fear that owls would be disturbed?

  • Pneumatic tires probably could not be introduced now. You mean if it pops, I will wreck and kill a bunch of people? My current solid rubber tires don’t do that. It must be a design defect!

  • How about if the game of American/gridiron football were coming up now? It probably would never get into schools at any level due to safety concerns . . . and of course Title IX.

  • I probabaly should’ve added such sports as auto racing, bicycle racing, ice hockey, and rodeo to the “safety concerns” list.

  • Unless helmet technology substantially improves, I think there’s a 20-30% chance football is abolished in my lifetime.

  • Frank, with regards to safety improvements on motorcycles: A company in Japan has an airbag for motorcycles, but they won’t market it in the US because they cannot guarantee 100% effectiveness. In other words, they know they are guaranteed to be sued for big bucks the first time it delivers less than 100% safety.

  • Air bags have been standard on the Honda Goldwing in the US for some time. http://world.honda.com/news/2005/2050908.html

  • Christen, I went back to the article to refresh my memory, and it was about airbag jackets, not bike airbags, which seems to make sense because riders are often thrown off the bike. This company is selling its product worldwide but not in the US.