Thursday, July 24, 2008

Where's Ralph Nader When You Need Him?

In order to counter the effects of mines and IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US military trotted out a class of big wheeled vehicles known as MRAP (mine-resistant, ambush-protected). The smallest, the Caiman, weighs in at a svelte 9 tons.

The MRAPs are designed with a V-shaped hull to deflect blast waves away from the vehicle, which is a very good thing indeed. The military loves these things because it saves the lives of our soldiers. And I wouldn't mind owning a Caiman to get through that pesky rush hour traffic (provided gasoline was $0.10 a gallon - these things probably get piss-poor mileage).

But - hey, presto! - the MRAPs have a problem.

They have a tall silhouette and a high center of gravity.

Do the words "Ford Explorer" ring any bells?

Yep, there have been a number of serious rollover accidents in MRAPs, usually caused by either taking a curve too fast, misjudging the road grade or the width of a bridge. Rutted roads can also pose a problem. A couple Green Berets, for example, drowned when their MRAP overturned into a canal in Afghanistan. To their credit, the military acted very quickly on this by issuing safety alerts and providing training to forestall these accidents.

But I say get Nader on this issue - it'll distract him away from pestering us about becoming President.


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