by Llewellyn Lafford



60-Blip-80

Call me a tri-focaled fuddy-duddy if you wish, but it seems to me that there is plenty room on speedometers displaying MPH (as opposed to km/h) to label all the 10-MPH increments, i.e. 0-10-20-30-40-50, etc. Every car I look at these days skips every other label, ending up as 0-20-40-60. . . . The long and short blips anchoring the numbers mark the 10s and 5s, like |.|.|.| though, as I said, every other big blip is unlabeled. speedo_1497I agree this ends up looking less cluttered, but almost every time I glance at the speedo to check if I’m doing 70, I see that the needle is pointing at a biggish unlabeled blip, which is next to an (unlabeled) little blip, which is next to a big blip labeled 60. I run the little Plus-10 algorithm in my brain that calculates the correct answer and that satisfies the plausibility-check that it falls in the series of odd integers multiplied by 10. I also calculate the milliseconds required for this operation and perhaps how many feet have whizzed under my vehicle during the calculation. Then I’m reminded of my obsessive compulsiveness and I get even madder. So to calm down, I lapse into philosophizing on the spatial relations between the adjacent MPH and km/h scales. Ach!

Is it because the Human Factors Engineers in the Dashboard Design Studios of every Asian, European, and American automobile manufacturer are under 30 (for whom both reading glasses and accurate velocities are laughable)? Or because they have a built-in bias against the old-fashioned miles after converting their speedos from their native closer-spaced kilometer markings (for which a case can be made for skipping every other 10-blip, since they have to squeeze in more of them, plus if your speed is off by 10 km/h, it is still within the legal margin of error)? Or is it just that style has trumped intelligibility (the classic HFE sin)?

It all makes me even prefer a fat soulless digital readout displaying exact MPH in 1-inch high characters. Go ahead. Call me a tri-focaled fuddy-duddy who is somewhere between 60 and Blip.

One Response to “60-Blip-80”

  1. P.S. So my RAV4 speedo (pictured above) inexplicably has blips of *three* sizes: smallest for all the 5-MPH increments, largest for the labeled 20-MPH increments, and somewhere in between for the unlabeled intervening 20-MPH increments, as if they were less important values than the labeled ones. Really?

    I know. I need a life. Maybe in a car company. . .where I’d be constantly shunned and frustrated.

    Anybody want a 2001 RAV4 in great condition with only 73,659 miles on her and an analog speedometer?

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