A Special Industry Message

Posted on May 1, 1989 by Ty Bobit, LCT Publisher

Peter Huber in the November/December 1983 issue of Regulation magazine:

Regulating health and safety hazards is an endeavor fraught with two risks of its own. Regulation may impede risk-reducing change, freezing us into a hazardous present when a safer future beckons. Worse still, as with the Hydra’s head, when one risk is removed, two others often grow up in its place.

It is commonplace to observe that risk is ubiquitous and inescapable. Every insurance company knows that life is growing safer, but the public is firmly convinced that living is becoming ever more hazardous. Congress, understandably enough, has been more interested in the opinion polls than in the actuarial tables.

"Being Shot at…is one thing you never get to like.” Dashiell Hammett was the author of those words. His was an admittedly different world but we mutually share this one sentiment. Dodging criticism is as difficult as it was for Hammett’s Sam Spade dodging bullets. And it may be even more dangerous for a publisher.

Just prior to printing this issue of Limousine & Chauffeur, our office was inundated with phone calls and letters. Interestingly, they both focused on the department of Transportation’s arm, the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA), and their intervention recently in the limousine industry. The dozens of phone calls were mainly from concerned coachbuilders who were vitally interested in how we were reporting NHTSA’s moves. The letters were principally from limousine operators who simply wanted to know what was happening with NHTSA and how it would affect them.

Since it may be weeks of months before anyone can report on the ultimate outcome, we necessarily had to seriously consider and evaluate our responsibilities to our readers, the coachbuilders, and the industry as a whole. Our publisher, Scott Fletcher, has been in contact with NHTSA from the first announcement. He personally met with Robert Hellmuth prior to attending the initial industry meeting in Washington, DC, in March. He and members of L&C’s staff discussed the issues with coachbuilders, manufacturers, and operators at the L&C Show in Baltimore that followed the Washington meeting. We continue to be in contact with NHTSA and the entire industry on a daily basis for developments. Everyone is starving for information, for facts, for the outcome.

No one can predict either the outcome or when a definitive course of action will actually be taken. Still, the coachbuilders are wary; they are hopeful that the newly-formed coalition can work out a suitable solution that will not devastate the industry. They are understandably concerned that communications to the operator level accompanied by the inevitable national publicity in the media will prevent an orderly evaluation and solution by NHTSA. All persuasive factors.

For more than six years our publication has served the limousines industry; many suggest that the magazine identified and helped “create” an emerging market. With editorial integrity and total industry support through both the magazine and its shows, we influence the entire industry. We have had a leadership role in communications and upgrading a loosely knit market into a cohesive and more professional segment of the automotive field.

When we learned that the coachbuilders themselves and the National Limousine Association were actively communicating the NHTSA regulatory activities, we found no other course but to similarly make certain that all segments of the limousine industry should know factually what is happening. It is straightforward reporting without editorializing on our part. We feel strongly that our reporting will support an equitable final solution between NHTSA and the industry through knowledge by everyone (all 10,800) dealing intelligently with these issues.

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