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Three Wise Guys: Seat Belts on Buses, Midair Insect Collisions, Bosses in Gangster Flicks

(By Danny Hellman)
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By Joe Heim, Justin Rude and Dan Zak
Sunday, October 12, 2008

Dear Wise Guys:

Occasionally I ride shuttle buses, which either don't have seat belts or have seat belts that no self-respecting person would fasten. Consequently, the question arises: Should the shuttle bus fall off a cliff, would it be better to use my hands to protect my head as I tumble around or, alternately, use my hands to hang on to some fixed part of the bus in hopes of limiting my buffeting? How should I plan?

Carrie

Joe: Is this question metaphorical? Are you sure you're not asking us about the economy?

Dan: Either way, you'd probably be dead. Depending on the height of the cliff. And the size of the bus. And the contents of the bus. And the durability of your skull. In fact, there are so many indefinites in your scenario that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration couldn't comment.

But know this: The NHTSA is in the final stages of researching the cost and efficacy of installing seat belts on all public transportation vehicles and motor coaches, even though fatality rates are low. (The recent records being a high of 33 deaths in 2005 and a low of three in 2003.) So if that plan goes forward, you might have belts on your bus in a matter of years. Not that you'd wear them. Maybe you should just wear a helmet at all times. Or avoid routes with cliffs.

Hey, there!

Here's a question from my husband: Do insects commonly bump into each other while in flight, and if not, why?

Carol

Joe: Excellent question. I told Justin to stare at the sky for seven hours straight and report back to me on midair insect collisions.

Justin: Good news: I only witnessed near misses. Bad news: My neck is killing me.

Joe: I questioned the reliability of Justin's research, so I checked in with our good friends at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History.


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