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Off-Road Mail - Letters To The Editor - June 2007

Posted in Features on June 1, 2007
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Anonymous and On a Mission
Because magazines like yours encourage readers to modify factory vehicles without regard to their mechanical or fabricating skills, I have approached my state representative about introducing legislation prohibiting any modification of a vehicle's ride height, steering, and/or suspension parts without such modifications being approved on each vehicle by a registered, professional engineer with relevant background and experience. The owner of each such vehicle would be responsible for all costs associated with this approval process, and no such modified vehicle could be insured/licensed for use on any public highway until said registered professional engineer had certified that the modification met all relevant safety and stability standards (as required by federal law that the OEM must meet). These requirements would be based on the date of manufacture of the replacement parts, e.g. if the parts were made and the installation completed in 2007 on a '54 vehicle, such installation would be required to meet all relevant standards in place in 2007. The owners of such vehicles modified before such a law goes into effect would have to remove and return both license plates to the issuing office, and such vehicle could not be relicensed for use upon any public highway until the owner had provided proof that a registered professional engineer had certified that any suspension or steering modifications met all applicable standards effective at the date of the law taking effect (e.g. if a vehicle had been modified in 1965, the owner would be responsible for providing proof of the year the modification occurred as well as paying all associated costs to ensure that such vehicle met all relevant standards that the OEM would have been required to meet at that date).

This, along with making anyone who willfully commits trespass upon private property in a motorized vehicle a felony, should go a long way in keeping such unsafe vehicles off the public roadways along with protecting private property and the environment from wanton destruction.

If this would keep jury-rigged, cobbled-together, unstable, and unsafe vehicles off the public highways, then so much the better.

No name givenPostmarked Abilene, Texas

Wow... talk about the enemy within. The Texans we're familiar with are truck-savvy people who wouldn't dream of legislating a complete enthusiast population off the public roads because of a few bad apples. Unfortunately, it's quite possible there are other organisms (Weaselus weenieus maximus, to be scientifically precise) just like yourself lurking around the very communities we live in.

Are you by chance a registered, professional engineer? Congratulations, you're good at math. If that's not the case, our second guess is that you just might be a bureaucrat seeking to expand your influence at a higher level of government than the one you're directly involved in.

You're right: Cobbled-together trucks that are unsafe should not be operated on public highways. At the same time, if you honestly think that we encourage bad, irresponsible fabrication and questionable modifications performed by those with lacking skills, then you're way off the mark.

We always encourage our readers to perform modifications only if said modifications are within their skill level. We also keep them informed as to where they can take their vehicles for competent modifications. We also choose not to feature products that we feel are unsafe. As far as changes in ride height go, we encourage vehicle owners to lift their vehicles the minimum needed to clear their tires of choice, and advocate that they should use larger body openings (fenders, bedsides, and quarter-panels) to achieve the tire clearance desired. It is true that lower lift heights offer more stability and better handling whether on- or off-road. Had you spent more time reading the magazine, you would have seen our prerunner features. Most prerunners have a wider track width than a stock vehicle, and this added track width helps to overcome cornering stability that can be lost when a vehicle is lifted. You would also have noted that most prerunners have a ride height that's not much taller than stock.

We've got to take exception to the broad swath that you try to cut regarding modified vehicles. Most owners of modified vehicles are vehicle enthusiasts, and are very well informed of how their chosen modifications will change their vehicles' handling characteristics. Many of these same enthusiasts are also skilled drivers.

If you really and truly want to live in such a Big Brother-controlled police state, there's probably another country on this planet that would suit you better.

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