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RE: BMW brakes in the news

>> 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."
> Eric Renneisen

God.....I've had to put up with thoughtless crap like that for my whole 
professional career! My more ignorant clients (generally persons of an 
engineering persuasion) say, "Sure we installed a confusing highway 
sign (and used weird layout and small letters) and sure we see cars 
backing up back to the exit ramp every day, but "they" will learn. And 
anyway, it is only the incompetents who are getting hurt, most of the 

Consider -

1. Designers (like Audi perhaps) had lots of ways to differentiate 
their pedals (size, shape, spacing, positioning, orientation, height, 
texture, feel, sound, maybe even smell, etc.). But if they had given 
twenty seconds of thought to the driver, they would have done it 
differently... they weren't OBLIGED to do it the confusing way. And 
yes, people make mistakes in all cars but my impression is that is 
wasn't just a PR failure on Audi's part, gimme a break.

2. Sure, some folks like Eric never are distracted, never make 
mistakes, never wear new shoes while driving their car, never fall into 
that "lowest common denominator," and never in their lives have talked 
on cell phones while driving. But I've never met such a person. Even if 
geniuses make mistakes once a month like dividing their attention while 
trying to work the insanely user hostile BMW car information gizmo to 
find a radio station, that still means: dead bikers.