Conveniences being added to vehicles by the manufacturers are making new drivers bad ones. Everyone is always looking for newest inventions, and the adding of futuristic options to vehicles is nothing new. Vehicles have evolved since the Model T created by Henry Ford decades ago. The addition of air conditioning and heat, power windows and automatic drive were some of the additions consumers rejoiced having.
Jump ahead to the 21st century, and there are now cars that drive themselves, blind spot warnings, and backup cameras. The drivers that have been driving since manual stick shift was the only way to drive a car and turning their head around to watch for obstacles as they reverse, some of the additions are helpful, but for the new young drivers just starting out, these can create a problem with their defensive driving skills. Not paying attention to the road or checking their blind spots make the inexperienced drivers rely on electronics to warn them of danger or when to start braking. Not learning the skills needed to be a safe and defensive driver will cause more traffic accidents and a rise in injuries or death in the years to come. Sensors and cameras that send data to the computer operating system relay to the driver via lights or warning sounds bringing the information their attention and allow them to act accordingly. However, what if that sensor or sound malfunctions? The driver does not have the sense or muscle memory to check mirrors or turn their head to check for a car in their blind spot or to back out of a parking space slowly, so they do not hit a pedestrian or another car. Being able to react to a situation while driving must happen in less than a second and if the reflexes are not there, the outcome will not be a positive one.
Over the years, the conveniences added to cars and trucks have been for the better towards the driver, such as the radio, power locks and windows and GPS, but unfortunately, some have also contributed to inexperienced drivers being bad ones. Cellphones able to take pictures and browse social media has cause drivers to be distracted from watching the road and being aware of their surroundings. Video chat and updating status are distracting and cause swerving in lanes. Browsing the internet is for in the office, not while driving 65mph on the highway in a one-ton metal container. A lot of the accidents caused could have been avoided by just keeping the phone in a purse or pocket until reaching the destination. The Department of Transportation has created equipment such as red light/traffic cameras, police checking speeds and for distracted drivers, making talk/text while driving illegal and upping the number of fines but people continue not to care and break the law. Vehicle makers are trying to help by adding parental features to vehicles. Some examples are maxed speed allowed; radio will not turn on until seat belts engaged and phone call rejection allow a parent to set limits in the vehicle that the young driver cannot change. Parents can also help by teaching their new driver the skills they learned when they were first starting out. If possible buying an older vehicle for the young driver that does not come with the fancy new sensors, so they can hone their skills to be a better driver. When they do buy a new vehicle, they have the sense and muscle memory to rely on while driving instead of the electronics. Start teaching them how to drive before they turn 16, learners permits are an excellent way to help teach inexperienced drivers to be a safe driver before they get their license. Some of the most important lessons when it comes to driving are parking, reversing, and looking out for obstacles. Practicing it over and over will instill it in memory and make the driver a safer one.
Another addition to vehicles that are not helping young drivers to operate a vehicle safely is airbags. When the airbag became incorporated to the manufacturers, it served as both a safety feature not only for the driver but the passenger. Over the years it has evolved to protect the passengers in the back of the vehicle as well, and if there is not a passenger, the driver can turn off that airbag. However, the feature has given drivers the idea that they do not need to use their seatbelt and that has caused vehicle fatalities to increase due to the negligent thinking. Airbags are there to protect the head and upper body during a crash, not to keep the body from exiting the vehicle. Because of this thinking seat belt usage has become an afterthought and more drivers are suffering because of it. Parents need to reiterate the importance of wearing a seatbelt along with having an airbag to keep the driver as safe as possible.
The ability to sense a driver is drowsy or drunk is a new feature that can be abused causing the most danger to the driver and everyone else on the road. After the vehicle has swerved continuously in a lane, the vehicle can drive to the side of the road and apply the brake. The result is the driver is safe and does not cause an unnecessary accident due to their negligence. It sounds like it is a good thing but what if the driver believes they have nothing to worry about while drinking too much at the bar? They will not see the danger they are putting themselves and others in because the vehicle will save them from a crash or kill someone.
Abusing such conveniences is nothing new, people recording themselves taking a nap as their car “drives” for them is all over the Internet for everyone to see. Being a responsible driver means only using the added features when necessary or when needed, not relying on them to make a driver safer. Futuristic conveniences in vehicles do not have to be a terrible thing. For a suitable driver, it can make them better but can be the reason a new driver becomes a bad one.
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