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RE: BMW brakes in the news

Ben Barkow wrote:
> If my poor memory serves me right, there were many 
> instances of what Steve is talking about (Tom perhaps 
> too, but that may be something different).

Many instances, and not just Audi.  Audi got a bad rap for it because
"60 Minutes" used a piece of sensationalist (and dishonest) journalism
and the Teutonic company wasn't familiar with the value of PR in the
USA.  Hard lesson learned.  We'll get to see if BMW learned this lesson
if this brake issue becomes widely publicized.

> Put in plain language, after a lot of mysterious cases 
> and head-scratching, it began to look like the "dumb" 
> driver stepped on both the accelerator and brake 
> simultaneously, if unknowingly.

Not both together, just the gas.  Even moderate brake pressure would
easily overcome engine torque (especially the old non-turbo 5000).  I
suspect Tom's report about the throttle linkage is only slightly
related.  The bad press from "Unintended Acceleration" made everyone
hyper-sensitive to these issues.

> Sounds like "driver error"?
> Well, not to those of us in the human factors (applied 
> psych) field. We call that stupid design, putting the 
> pedals too close together and/or otherwise too similar 
> in feel.... "dumb" manufacturer.

That's a bit of a stretch.  The trouble with designing for the lowest
common denominator is that there's always a lower denominator lurking
somewhere.  Where do you draw the line?  We don't expect blind people or
young children to be able to operate these machines.  Why do we have to
ensure that every idiot can?  I guess it's because the states in this
country will hand out a license to any idiot.

The manufacturer has a right to expect that someone who hops into a
one-ton piece of machinery has a bit of training and common sense, no?
Brake and accelerator feels the same?  Not to anyone who's paying
attention.  I've heard Audi claim that pedal placement in this case was
influenced by heel-and-toe.  I know these cars were automatics, but the
vast majority of Audis at that time were manual and the pedal placement
was similar for both.  Just because the positions are different from
another vehicle the user is accustomed to doesn't make it "dumb."

Oh, and this whole episode (and others like it) are responsible for the
shifter lockout on most (all?) automatics these days.  You can't pull it
out of park unless you demonstrate the ability to press the brake pedal.

Eric Renneisen
'94 R1100RS
'93 Audi S4
'86 Audi ur-quattro
Chattanooga, TN


End of oilheads-digest V2 #156