We've disagreed with Detroit News columnist Manny Lopez in the past, but his most recent column is absurd. At issue is a bill in the Michigan State legislature that would require adding an environmental component to driver education programs. Lopez is against this. OK, fine. But his reasons are illogical. How many wrong points does Lopez make? Let's count, shall we?.

Lopez says that making young student drivers learn about fuel-efficient vehicles, carpooling and public transpiration is "environmental activism." He also believes teaching students these facts won't help them to make better decisions. Uhhh, say what? Is he really arguing that people can make smarter, more informed decisions with less information? We can only assume he employs the same logic when he pens a new opinion column.

Lopez also writes, "Since these courses aren't in the schools and parents have to pay for them out of their own pockets, they shouldn't have to pay for someone else's religion -- and trust me, environmental activism is a religion." BS. Avoiding jackrabbit starts and stops saves fuel. It's also safer to accelerate and decelerate in a responsible manner. Science, not faith, can prove this. Does anyone at the News even read what Lopez writes before it's published?

And then, finally, this: "Most young people don't have the resources to choose what they get to drive, never mind shop around for one that has the 'attributes of a fuel-efficient vehicle.' They're just happy to get behind the wheel of a car, any car. And they're certainly not going to pay much, if any attention, to someone telling them to take the bus when their only goal in life at that moment is driving." No one is forcing young people to go buy a hybrid, no matter what bogeyman Lopez tries to conjure here. Driver training is exactly when we should be teaching young people about the ways that driving style affects fuel economy -- of any vehicle. Do it right and everyone benefits: the new driver saves money over his or her entire driving life, the U.S. imports less fuel. As we move to gasoline alternatives, having a smart right foot is going to be even more important to maximize the electric-only range of plug-in vehicles.

We can only assume that, sometime soon, Lopez will say he believes that green-minded politicians "hate the American auto industry." Oh, wait.

[Source: Detroit News via Green Car Reports]
Photo by Robert Couse-Baker. Licensed under Creative Commons license 2.0.

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