Laurie Loisel: Why I voted ‘yes’ on Question 1

  • A summary of Ballot Question 1 in the Nov. 3, 2020, Massachusetts election, known as the “right to repair” law, is displayed in a handbook provided to voters by the Secretary of the Commonwealth, Wednesday, Sept. 23, in Marlborough, Mass.  AP Photo/Bill Sikes

Published: 10/28/2020 2:07:42 PM

I have never in my life owned a new car. 

This is why I voted “yes” on Question 1, which seeks to expand (basically update) the state’s right to repair law that was approved by 87% of the voters in 2012. Question 1 would require manufacturers of vehicles with telematics systems to install standardized data platforms starting in 2022 so that car owners and independent mechanics can have access to data and run diagnostics using a mobile-based app. 

More simply put, this measure will allow car owners to take their vehicles to mechanics who do not work in dealerships.

Proponents of Question 1 are a coalition of independent auto repair and supply shops. Opponents are large automobile companies, including General Motors, Ford, Honda, Toyota and Nissan.

Question 1 opponents have mounted an advertising campaign that sows confusion and attempts to capitalize on people’s fear of data breaches. The worst example of that was one I saw suggesting that survivors of domestic violence might be targeted by their abusers if this question passes. 

To borrow a phrase from my current favorite candidate for president, that’s a bunch of malarkey.

Of the cars members of my immediate family own now, the newest one is a 2009 Honda Element we purchased from my sister-in-law. Owning older cars means you sometimes need repairs. Some people consider that a pain, but I see it as a fine price to pay so I can drive a car for which I don’t have to make car payments.  

For 35 years now,  I have brought my cars to mechanics who worked first at City Auto on Pleasant Street and then at Ernie’s Garage on King Street after City Auto closed. I trust them with my life — a car can be a dangerous thing if it isn’t working properly, after all. 

If my trusted mechanics need access to my car’s electronic data to make my old cars run properly, I want them to have it.

Laurie Loisel

Northampton




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