Thursday, August 19, 2010
If you don't know what the symbol at the right means just by looking at it, the government thinks you're (not even) an idiot.
If you guessed a low tire-pressure warning, you are right. If you didn't recognize the symbol, that's also understandable because one out of three drivers do not, according to Schrader, a company that makes tire pressure monitoring systems.While I can see the case for having a small vocabulary of international hieroglyphs for ubiquitous products like cars, I have always bristled at the notion that they are somehow "intuitive", and thus superior to the written word. I take a small measure of grim satisfaction in the bolded sentence above, whose self-contradiction induces a sort of bracing cognitive whiplash along with a smirk.
The issue here seems to be that the public hasn't been properly educated on the warning symbol, which is supposed to be "idiot proof" and understandable across a wide variety of cultures and languages. Yet 46% of drivers couldn't figure out that the icon represents a tire and 14% thought the symbol represented another problem with the vehicle entirely, according to Schrader. [bold added]
If we need to be told about what this symbol means, how can anyone say it's idiot-proof? If it's idiot-proof, why do we need to be told what it means?
And then there's the whole matter of the government effectively training people not to check their tire pressure regularly by this mandated warning light.
When you design cars for idiots, ...