Thighs matter


By Al Vinikour   

There are some really beautiful vehicle interiors. Some have sleek center consoles while others have high-tech instrument panels and center stacks. Some others have creature comforts like lighted cupholders and ergonomically-friendly temperature controls. But some vehicle manufacturers have decided that thighs don’t matter if it interferes in any way with design.

Many vehicles have inside-door armrests that rub up against a diver’s and passenger’s thigh. This can lead reactions ranging from annoyance to pain-producing. Let’s say you’re driving from Detroit to Chicago – a jaunt of about 4-5 hours, depending on whether Officer Lucas has written his ticket quota around Exit 60 (Paw Paw) on I-94; and after an hour or so numbness begins to creep across your upper thigh.

Eventually you’ll start to lean over to avoid the problem and the driver behind you will wonder if you’re sitting on your tail.

This constant irritation could cause such anger that road rage is inevitable and will very possibly end with the homicide of the first person in your sights. And why has it come to this point? Because some bony-butt designer thought he’d achieved his life calling by inventing a Star Wars-type arm rest that people his size would never bump up against.

Not once did he ever think that anybody who has ever eaten a meal wouldn’t be so lucky. It’s apparent that if a focus group was ever convened it was comprised of veterans from the “Long March.” Normal-sized people have normal-sized or larger thighs. There are plenty of ways to design an inside door handle that don’t involve bludgeoning of someone’s legs.

Instead of a Federal program of “Cash for Clunkers” there should be a new plan called “Buys for Thighs.” A pool of money would be set aside to settle medical lawsuits from individuals forced to spend the rest of their lives either limping or because of the twisted shapes of their leg from thousands of miles of attempting to find a comfortable sitting position, they can only walk in circles.

As long as I have your attention there’s another design element that’s just as problematic as the inside door handle. In a never-ending game of “Cupholder Canasta,” manufacturers are always on the prowl to find new places to hold beverage containers. In some cases, they have found “gold” on the inside front door panels. Cool idea but it bears the same degree of possibilities as the door handles and arm rests, but lower on the “leg chart.” Just for the competitive edge of having a holder large enough for a 5-gallon bottle of water, drivers and passengers run the risk of developing any number of dermatological malfunctions. How many budding soccer or skateboarding careers have been cut short because of amputated legs and feet caused by some design engineer from Kouts State Teacher’s College and Trade School who thought it was avant-garde to install a bottle holder that protrudes enough to hold a 55-gallon drum of Hawaiian Punch.

And you other designers who were responsible for door
pockets/map holders that jut out from the bottom of the door…you’re not getting out of this, either. None of us needs a container wide enough to hide a Samsonite attaché case. 97.4673% of the vehicles having rear seats find them empty so it’s just as handy to put the attaché case or steamer trunk that might be destined for the door pocket in the unoccupied back seat and possibly save an appendage.

There’s a message here and it’s directed to all you future designing engineers; when you’re planning a vehicle always allow for the outer extremes of your intended demographics. Nobody should have to resemble a B-52 coming in for a cross-wind landing to be comfortable in a car.

And just think…I didn’t even get to the right leg intrusions unless of course you’re behind the wheel of a right-hand-drive from some far away country.