With car manufacturers packing more tech in cars today our vehicles are becoming more than anything – a rolling computer.
But can drivers keep up?
In car technology is changing the driving experience, and in recent years automakers have rushed to introduce all sorts of technology that keeps drivers connected to their mobile devices, cell phones, email accounts and music while they’re on the road.
But a recent study released by Harris Poll in the U.S says that 76%, or more than 3 out of four car owners believe that in car tech is becoming too distracting and dangerous to have. In addition, 55%, or more than half involved in the study, argue automakers have taken technology for road use a bit too far.
And think about all the technologies that control the majority of modern cars. We have things now like blind spot cameras, lane departure warnings, adaptive cruise control, and 360 degree camera vision. And it’s not just the expensive ones anymore. Most of these systems are available from any manufacture and allow drivers to pay less attention to the road ahead.
But remember when driving used to be a skill? Remember when YOU drove the car, and the car didn’t drive YOU? And fifteen, twenty years down the road, will anyone even know how to drive anymore? I’m all for advancements that increase safety, but not the ones that distract you or replace driver skill.
As I mentioned before, Automakers have also rushed to introduce all sorts of technology that keep drivers connected to their mobile devices, cell phones, email accounts and music while they’re on the road.
For four years Ford has offered SYNC in its vehicles. With SYNC, drivers can make and receive phone calls, adjust music selection, receive texts, tweets, update Facebook pages and control your Ipod. BMW and Mercedes also have iDrive and Command, similar hands free systems that claim to be on God’s side by reducing the level of distraction from hand held devices.
And while companies rave about connectivity technology, studies such as the Harris Poll, still suggest it does more harm than good. Even with the best Bluetooth and navigation systems, you still usually end up taking your attention away from the road one way or another.
And do we really need to be doing all these things while we drive?
The problem is, as drivers, we have become unquestioning in our acceptance of technology as a good thing. If it’s new and advanced and we haven’t used it before, it must be good, right?
Well no, not always.
Now I’m not suggesting a return to the dark days when power steering and seat belts were optional. Trust me, we should be happy that they don’t build cars the way they used to.
But sometimes I think we need to stop and ask questions instead of greeting new technology without even blinking.
With technology advancing at such a fast pace – it clearly seems to be exceeding the government’s ability to cope and implement new rules for automakers.
Safety, however, is still the most important feature in any vehicle. Yet, safety seems boring to many of us since we can’t touch or see it and it can’t be connected to a smart phone.
Many of the new technologies in cars are replacing old habits – or in other words, people are using them to take over from paying attention while driving.
And this important because, as automakers pack their cars with more and more safety technologies like adaptive cruise control or automatic braking, driving a car becomes easier and easier. We are essentially given less to pay attention to while we’re told that our cars are watching out for us.
And as a result people are becoming lazier than ever. Most people don’t even turn their head when they back up anymore – they just stare at the back up camera screen. And when they go to change a lane and don’t see a light flashing telling them a cars there, they go ahead and move over.
But you should still look around. Things on the road can happen very quickly and while technological advancements continue to enhance our driving abilities, you should never let them over ride you, the driver.
Call me Amish, but the most important feature in any car should still be the driver. Yes, technology is here to make cars easier and safer, but we shouldn’t always greet every advance with open arms as another step in the right direction.