Question

In the United States, injuries to passengers involved in automobile accidents are typically more severe than in Europe, where laws require a different kind of safety belt. It is clear from this that the United States needs to adopt more stringent standards for safety belt design to protect automobile passengers better.

Option A
Option B
Option C
Option D
Option E

(This question is from Official Guide. Therefore, because of copyrights, the complete question cannot be copied here. The question can be accessed at GMAT Club)

Solution

The Story

In the United States, injuries to passengers involved in automobile accidents are typically more severe than in Europe, where laws require a different kind of safety belt.

This statement compares the severity of the injuries to the passengers involved in automobile accidents between the US and Europe. Such injuries are generally more severe in the US than in Europe. In Europe, laws require a different kind of safety belt (different from the safety belt required by the laws in the US).

It is clear from this that the United States needs to adopt more stringent standards for safety belt design to protect automobile passengers better.

Given the above statement, the author concludes that the US needs to adopt more stringent standards for safety belt design so that automobile passengers can be better protected.

Gist: Since in Europe, whose laws require a different kind of seat belt, the severity of the injuries to passengers involved in automobile accidents is less than that in the US (support), the US needs to have more stringent standards for safety belt design (conclusion).

The Gap

The argument is pretty weak and has many gaps, as we’ll discover in the options. For now, I’ll just say that the argument follows a very common flawed way of arguing. It sees a correlation i.e. two things co-exist (difference in severity of injuries and different safety belt requirements) and assumes that one is the cause of the other. It fails to consider that the two things may not have any causal relationship.

The Goal

This is a Weaken Except question. Thus, we should see four options that weaken the argument – these options will be incorrect – and one option that doesn’t weaken the argument (either it strengthens the argument or it has no impact) – this one will be correct.

The Evaluation

(A) IncorrectThis option weakens the argument by presenting an alternate explanation for the difference in the severity of the injuries. If Europeans are more likely to wear safety belts, naturally they are expected to have less severe injuries in accidents. Does the ‘kind of seat belt’ have a role to play in the difference in the severity of the injuries? We are not sure now. Thus, the conclusion suggesting changes in the standards for safety belt design comes into question.

(B) Incorrect. This option weakens the argument by presenting an alternate explanation for the difference in the severity of the injuries.  If European drivers and not US drivers are trained in the way mentioned, naturally Europeans are expected to have less severe injuries in accidents. This casts doubt on whether safety seat belts have any role to play in the difference in the severity of the injuries.

(C) Incorrect. This option weakens the argument by presenting an alternate explanation for the difference in the severity of the injuries.  If European cars are sturdier than the US cars, naturally Europeans are expected to have less severe injuries in accidents since the cars will be able to protect the passengers better. This option too casts doubt on whether safety seat belts have any role to play in the difference in the severity of the injuries.

The first three options highlight a very common way of weakening such an argument – presenting an alternate cause that probably leads to the effect.

(D) CorrectThis option has no impact on the argument. The option suggests that on average, automobile passengers in the US get involved in more accidents than do passengers in Europe. However, regardless of the number of accidents passengers get involved in, the difference in the ‘severity of the injuries’ still stands. And from the argument, it does seem that difference in the kinds of safety belts has a role to play here. Thus, the argument stands as is.

(E) Incorrect. This option weakens the argument by presenting a situation in which the suggestion presented in the conclusion hasn’t worked. If the states that have started using European safety belts have not experienced any benefit from the shift, we become doubtful whether any changes in the safety seat belt design will help the US.

This solution was created by Anish Passi and Chiranjeev Singh.

If you have any doubts regarding any part of this solution, please feel free to ask in the comments section.

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