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Buyer beware. The past didn't present by word of the bewildered consumer shoppers in the modern marketplace looked for the Best Buy the safest product and find a perplexing jumble of goods. The consumer's choice is the story behind this program series buyer beware. Here are the sounds crucial to the lives of over 60000 consumers last year. Earlier. These were the final moments of motorists in highway accidents. Their confidence in the safety of their automobile highways and their driving ability was proved wrong in one split second and death was the result. Some critics suggest that automobile manufacturers are at fault. Ralph Nader speaks the loudest about the misleading efforts of the big three manufacturers.
He decries advertisements for today's Hot cars and auto companies. Finally I think saying that they are first in this country taking from the insurance industry will not tolerate this. But as late as the October issue of Playboy there occurred a two page full color ad buy for a lot of company advertising the mercury cycle with subtitles. So we know that the car was surrounded by teenagers crouched ready to spring in the title of the ad which is we make you know you make you scream. Others have joined Ralph Nader in attacks upon the modern automobile. They point to the yearly ritual of new models often only differing in the shape of the grill. The placement of headlights and the power of the engine. The combination of inflation and fancier features may tack on $400 to the cost of a new car in the span of only one year. Over 50 percent of this year's cars are installed with such optional equipment as power brakes air
conditioning and tinted glass. Such decisions have gained the attention of the consumer while safety features of new automobiles have been considered only incidental. Some critics have even suggested that automobile manufacturers are afraid to promote safety aspects because they will bring to mind the dangers inherent in driving. But consumer advocates do have ideas for improving the situation. Ralph Nader makes two concrete proposals primarily Varia handling and braking. And of course crash protection. Those are major areas were significant advances can be made to give us a car within the present price range around bills that will protect us against any injury to a 60 mile an hour impact to ultimate safety feature is a sensing device any on a bill that will automatically actuate the braking system on appending to live. That is something we should all learn to
expect in demand because a country has gone to great extent and many technological advances to the moon and in defense systems and computers automated machinery. Why not apply it to the needs of 200 million Americans such as in automobiles is eminently possible in the area of crash protection. We have on the horizon too for it to be installed as of January 1st 1972. In the right passenger seat it is called the Arab back restraint system whereas if occupants crash into another car or a law or a poll in 30 milliseconds an airbag is inflated into which the occupants pitch and then disinflation almost as rapidly when the car comes to stop that is like an automatic seat belt. Ralph Nader points the finger at the car itself. Others think in terms of highway construction. They discuss the expressways the cloverleaf and carefully calculated curves. Then they recalled winding two way
country highways with blind cross roads and potholes across the pavement. Still others find the driver at fault. A recount amazing tales of a blind man in Pennsylvania who was driving crashed into a tree and was killed. He was being guided by an 8 year old boy. They tell of impaired hearing inability to read traffic signs. Growing numbers of states require frequent testing of licensed drivers and insist on stiffer penalties for traffic violations. But accidents persist. What can people do when their decisions as consumers. First they must conclude that it is necessary to use an automobile in some areas. This is not the only transportation mode that is feasible. Some
consumers avoid the problems and the hazards of using a car and take public transportation. Many however will choose to use and to own an automobile when they shop for a new car they should consider its basic function first to get the most for their consumer dollars. They should start with minimal features and work upwards computing the cost of each additional item. If a car will only be used in town speeds of 65 miles an hour may rarely be reached. Therefore less horsepower will be demanded. If a salesman plans to spend most of his time on interstate highways he'll have a constant need for high performance at such speeds. On the other hand he'll have little need of an automatic transmission. But the resident of San Francisco may swear by an automatic transmission and be unable to use a gear shift in clutch. Constant research into the performance and safety of new cars is being done by many agencies. For example each year
Consumers Union prints a report on their tests of new automobiles gasoline companies such as Union Oil sponsor competition each year and distribute results of tests on braking acceleration and other performance features. Each manufacturer makes statements in advertisement which must be accurate if investigated by the Federal Trade Commission. Once the driver buys his car his worries are over. He still must maintain and repair this automobile At best he'll have to change the oil regularly. At worst he may have to replace the entire car piece by piece. The consumer's biggest complaint about owning a car is often aimed at an satisfactory service. Some recount the time the oil was changed and none was put back in before the car left the shop. Others remember three months without a car because no one could get the work done.
Who is at fault. Many consumers are not aware of the growing disparity between cars in use and mechanics in the shop. The National Better Business Bureau reports that the number of motor vehicles on the road increased 91 percent between 1950 and 1966 but the number of mechanics increased. Only 21 percent. Not only is service personnel limited it is often poorly trained car mechanics move on to other jobs leaving customers stranded with inexperienced help and some repair shops handle work with no intention of providing good service. They intend to defraud their customers by director of Consumer Federation of America recalls the recent heart hearings in Congress directed at the plight of the car owner. These hearings pointed out one thing above everything else I believe
and that was that no one had any standard way of controlling or even helping the consumer know whether he was getting what he thought he was paying for. There were instances after instances of a consumer being told that such and such a part of the car had been replaced when in fact it had not been touched and nothing had been done. But the consumer was not able to make that kind of a of an appraisal himself that's why he took it to a repairman. Whether this is standard if you want to call it that or was this is a regulation which should be done at the state level at the city level at the federal level. It is a big question among consumers themselves. Most people I think like to keep regulations fairly close to their home if they can. On the
other hand if you can't do it there then they go the Federal Route. But the further away the government is from the individual the harder it is for regulation to be fair. And your vine explains a proposal to alleviate a part of the problem. The shoddy fraudulent repairman. My guess is that licensing will will be the route that will be taken. First that the people who repair. The electric appliances cars or what have you will all be licensed repair people and that they could lose their license if they in fact do not do their their job and that the licensing route would be the first step. Still other vehicles use the nation's highways during the school term millions of children ride in school buses two or more times a day.
Shocking reports of accidents are constantly brought to the attention of the American public and in the National Transportation Safety Board. This federal agency part of the Department of Transportation but autonomous in its actions reviews many major accidents each year. The board investigates the probable causes of mishaps and then recommends changes to eliminate these problems. Ernest Weiss executive director of the board speaks with optimism about the possible improvements of a school bus. But the normal school bus today is not what I would consider to be a safety engineer vehicle. It's sort of a shell on a chassis and fire investigation of some school bus acts were very unhappy with that. We think a lot more could be done. For example we don't like the way the seats are attached to the floor they tear out in case of an accident which is pretty deadly. We have to be a pun but literally kills children. And we're concerned about whether there should be seat belts in school buses. But before you can put a
seatbelt on a school bus you better make sure they were seen as attached probably to the floor you have another problem. We're not satisfied with the structure of the outside shell as I've said. We think that it's a pretty empty vehicle right now and we have made recommendations to the manufactures of school busses to the National Highway Safety Bureau to PTA and to others urging them to do something about the matter school buses we think it's a relatively and satisfactory situation today. Ralph Nader agrees. He is extremely critical of their design. The problem is that you can't do much with the present school bus by tack on safety devices. It's like a sardine can. It's inadequate in so many respects that there has to be a really new design of the school bus one that doesn't put an iron bar in front of our children's heads as they sit in the in the in this in the seats. And one that really protects them in a collision was was one that was with more adequate breaking
system which is why was that your deficiency. The issue is whether school districts are going to going to the money whether government's going to require the standards to be here too at the manufacturing level. But what about other causes of school bus accidents today. Mr. Weiss draws some answers to this question from the investigations made by the board in some places almost anybody can drive a school bus. And I wouldn't want my children being driven by somebody who has not been trained how to. Ride the school bus. It's different to drive a school bus you're also a babysitter and it's a big thing and you have to worry about crossing railroad tracks and in traffic and stopping to pick up and discharge children and undoubtedly training is needed. Much more so than for an ordinary driver of a car. But we are somewhat fearful of the must be that there are some places in this country where school bus drivers are not adequately trained. We're also concerned about where they drive these buses for example in the accident I mentioned earlier at
Waterloo Nebraska some year and a half ago this school bus which accident which killed a number of children. There was no good reason for traveling over that particular grade crossing. There were some great crossings just a few miles away which were better protected and it would have been that better able to see the train coming. But there's a certain inertia or carelessness or getting used to driving one way every day and you're little bit reluctant drive several miles out of your way because there might be an accident. Are all buses so unsafe. Experts agree that school buses fare the worst most commercial buses are subject to strict interstate regulation as Ernest Weiss explains. Commercial buses are under more care regulations of the Department Transportation which specify their brake systems their seating cease
the structure the bus the qualifications the driver. The ability to accelerate and get in and out of traffic. The speed limitations the lights the gas tanks are the fuel tanks. There are very rigid regulations. Our forefathers were offered far fewer modes of transportation most who traveled long distances found the train the most expedient. Now many do not travel by train because of limited time and demands for greater comfort. Many also have discovered that passenger rates for trains are more expensive than buses and often even than airplanes.
Still developments such as the metro liner do attract train passengers and bus trains also demand the attention of Mr. Weiss aper 968 the Board sent a letter of recommendation for the recommendations I've spoken of which has the only force being gets into the newspapers to the pharaoh demonstration and it was out of my circulated within the industry cautioning that the Situation Room with action had deteriorated very serious in the last six or so years. The number of actions had doubled and the number of derailments had doubled and we were especially concerned because as bad as this was by itself the fact that more and more exotic and hazardous materials are being carried by the railroads really does a great deal. You can have a very serious affair or you can use a just the word catastrophe if you have a bad accident carrying hazardous material you can injure or kill many many people. The most spectacular reports of mishaps seem to involve airplanes.
Consumers who choose to fly often have a sinking feeling in their stomachs as they take off. And this is not entirely due to gravity. Air passengers question the capability of the pilot and the plane as far as the basic equipment is concerned. Ernest Weiss reports limited problems in most accidents it is not the physical structure of the aircraft which caused the accident. Now in some cases it is. Sometimes it is some structural defect which is caused by unexpected imposition especially of our higher forces of said gravity on a plane. We had a an accident in Alaska where a plane went down and within seven days we knew the wing had cracked due to fatigue of the wing. The board recommended that all those aircraft be inspected immediately they were we found nine more like it and those were corrected. That's another example of how the board works we don't wait for
an investigation to be complete we work. We copy proceed as soon as we know what an action is caused by but sometimes. The physical structure of a plane can cause an action in this way. If a certain knob or some feature of the plane is placed in such a place that the pilot is divert his attention is diverted to turn to the side to get to it. We have what we call an aircraft design pilot induced accident. We did put out a report on that and many planes have been the features have been corrected to avoid that sort of thing because as you know if you turn too much in a plane you can get ready to go when you get back you're just out of luck. Mr. Weiss fixes little of the blame on the commercial pilot himself. The pilots on these planes are very very skilled and they must pass very rigid examinations given to them in about a television administration or somebody working on the delegation from FAA. They must pass very rigid does ical standards. They are retested from time to time and we train to get refresher training.
I feel very confident when I fly on a commercial air carrier vessel plane. As a matter of fact last year we had one of the best years in 20 years in terms of fatal fatalities. About one hundred sixty persons were killed. Considering that perhaps as many as 180 million people moved in those flights last year we think that's pretty good. So we find that in our investigations of aggravation actions at about 15 percent of them have something to do with the pilot the causes the pilot in some way some involved with a tire. However in general aviation we're talking about a small plane a pleasure plane those on by. Industries that move officials around and so forth. The rate of pad involvement is somewhere between 80 and 90 percent. And the reason for that is an odd thing in that they're not as well trained standards or not as rigorous they don't get refresher training a Sara Lee. They they have to pass physicals every once in while but they're less rigid than those of the pilots air carrier or commercial pilots.
We think that a lot more it could be and should be done about how it's small planes. The development of the 747 and the SS to place even more stress upon the safety factor of travel greater efforts are expended to prevent accidents when passengers may number 400 or more in a single aircraft. I'd like to reserve a coach seat on a flight to London roundtrip. Well ma'am that will be four hundred twenty dollars. Oh really. My friend told me she flew over last year. Only cost you three hundred eighty two dollars. Oh yes well that's real Icelandic Airlines U.S. rates are set by the International Air Transport Association for this flight. No matter what the airline but Icelandic is not a member of this association and their flights are also jet not jet and they stop over in Iceland so their flying time may be twice as long before you reach London. I'm not many hurry I've always wanted to see Iceland anyway.
Beyond safety. Consumers also consider rates they find with surprise that most domestic and international lines charge identical rates because of the actions of the Civil Aeronautics Board and the International Air Transport Association. Little competition is offered in terms of the price of a ticket. Some consumer advocates object because they feel prices are inflated. Others are pleased that an outside agency keeps rates from fluctuating widely. For some travelers the lure of the ocean or the lake is greater. Passengers on yachts and steamships soak up sunshine and watch the
waves slap the bow. Few accidents on the high seas are reported. Most publicized mishaps involve commercial shipping vessels. But Ernest Weiss of the National Transportation Safety Board identifies another large category of marine problems. Due to the desirable affluence of the people the country more and more people are getting into recreational boating and we're killing or they're killing themselves they're about fourteen hundred people a year in these small boats. There is some legislation now pending on the Hill which we're supporting. And we do think it's necessary to set better standards met a minimum standards for these small boats. As I say some states now have to register them. But the amount of control of these small boats is rather minimal. The United States Coast Guard has a primary responsibility to enforce regulations and ensure safety on the nation's waterways. This is not always an easy job. Captain Terry McDonald chief of public information at the Coast Guard
headquarters reveals a primary difficulty owner operator is the operator is probably the main cause although. There always seem to be if you start analyzing it. The combination of factors. Make up a theoretical case a man will take a 16 foot long outboard. Craft out into deep water. Now perhaps that craft was never intended to be taken in the deep water it might have been made for a shallow water lake. We could not say therefore per se it's an unsafe boat. You'd have to say well it was used incorrectly. OR THE MAN-MADE take a safe boat maybe built for safe use in heavy seas. He may take it out with an improperly functioning engine and if he loses power he is going to be in trouble when he's in trouble we get a call and have to go out and saving shoppers wonder if manufacturers plan safe vessels. They think of criticisms of automobiles and question whether boats might be equally
unsafe. Captain MacDonald describes the present situation. The. Prospective owner goes around in these dumps the whole as they say and he. Maybe takes a pleasure cruise in a demonstration boat and listens to his neighbor who bought one last year and buys on faith just as we buy our shoes and our. Air conditioners and the other equipment that we buy for personally use. How will you travel. Which method is the safest. The National Transportation Safety Board reported almost 60000 fatalities in transportation accidents in 1968 all of these 53000 were on the nation's highways. Forty three thousand involve those in moving vehicles. The other 10000 were protest reasons walking it may be safer than
driving but it is still not as safe as other modes of transportation. The board counted almost 2000 aviation 2000 Marine and 2000 rail highway grade crossing fatalities. Only seven hundred and thirty seven were killed on trains. But these numbers do not reflect miles traveled. Other officials interpret transportation accidents this way. They state that for every 10 billion miles of travel these passengers will die. Five by train 13 by bus 14 by plane and five hundred and seventy by automobile. Girl. Safety is certainly a primary consideration but consumers must also examine cost and efficiency of their means of travel.
Compare the time and money required to travel between two points and consider convenience before you become an American on the move. Buyer beware. Still the buy Word of the consumer. Shoppers search for information and protection to buy the best for the leaks. Our next program will follow these consumers through a department store filled with the latest home furnishings and appliances. We'll take a look at the inside on the next program of buyer beware. This is the national educational radio network.
Buyer beware
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On the Move
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Chicago: “Buyer beware; 5; On the Move,” 1971-00-00, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 13, 2024,
MLA: “Buyer beware; 5; On the Move.” 1971-00-00. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 13, 2024. <>.
APA: Buyer beware; 5; On the Move. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from