What others say : Road Technology could save lives, Missile shield test success

Posted: Wednesday, August 01, 2001

Technology could help reduce highway deaths

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reacting to the Firestone tire controversy, has proposed that carmakers be required to install tire pressure warning systems in vehicles made after November 2003.

NHTSA officials say tread separations and blowouts led to 200 deaths -- and underinflated tires, combined with heavy loads, contributed to some of those fatalities. Dozens of lives could be saved every year if there were a light on the dashboard to warn drivers when their tire pressure falls below an acceptable level.

The technology already has been developed, and it should be used -- not only for safety but also to increase gas mileage and save on tire wear. Some cars already have the device, but it isn't mandatory.

Of course, few people want to die. As they become aware that the technology is available, most new-car buyers probably are going to want it -- and automakers react to consumer demand, as well as government regulation.

The proposed new rule, therefore, will merely order manufacturers to give consumers safety equipment that consumers would buy anyway. At the same time, it would make politicians and bureaucrats feel as if they had done something important.

That sounds like a win-win situation.

-- Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville

July 31

Test's success proves missile shield's viability

All the anti-defense crowd said it couldn't be done. Preposterous, they said. A waste of taxpayer dollars. You'll never be able to hit a speeding bullet with a bullet.

That was one of the big arguments against Defense Department tests of a critical element of the proposed new national missile defense system. And this crowd crowed with every test failure. Of course they overlooked the fact that the development of new technology always begins with failure. The first airplanes didn't fly, either.

But now the bullet has hit its target. The military (recently) shot down an intercontinental ballistic missile. A prototype interceptor fired from Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands smashed a dummy warhead 144 miles above the Pacific Ocean. The target, released from an intercontinental ballistic missile that had been launched 29 minutes earlier from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California, was moving at 4.5 miles a second when the direct hit was made.

The launch site was 5,000 miles away from Kwajalein. It was a perfect test of what the U.S. might one day face from a nuclear warhead launched toward an American city.

So despite the naysayers, you can hit a bullet with a bullet. It can be done and must be done if the U.S. is to craft a protective shield in defense of American soil.

Many more tests are to come. And there will be more failures along the way toward developing a fail-safe system. But there can no longer be doubt that the technology for missile defense is being developed to meet our national needs.

The peaceniks and the greenies are all atwitter. They stand with the Kremlin in opposing a U.S. defense program. And so, sadly, do some Democratic congressional leaders who probably, deep in their hearts, don't object to national defense but only to any program advocated by President Bush. What a pitiful way to form policy for the public good.

-- Voice of The (Anchorage) Times

July 26

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