Monday, July 11, 2016


My wife recently purchased one of those vehicles with a "Collision Alert System".  When a vehicle is too close to the front of the car, a red light comes on the dash and there is a beeping tone to "warn you" a collision is imminent.  It also has a "Lane Deviation" feature that beeps at you when you cross over a line along the roadway and your turn signal isn't on--as the vehicle thinks that you may not have noticed that you are leaving your lane.

In the couple of times I've driven the car, that thing has been beeping almost constantly--especially on Interstate 41.  It's not so much that I'm out there tailgating everybody--but rather the on-board computers seem to have a different definition of "safe distance" than pretty much everyone else on the road.  We can be driving with the cruise on at 73-miles an hour and a car switches lanes in front of us to pass another vehicle on the left and all of sudden the car is beeping all over the place and red lights are coming on and yet, there is no greater threat for a collision than there was 10-second before.  Or, we're all alone on the interstate and I slide over the right hand lane and the car is beeping all over the place because my turn signal wasn't activated and that represents a "danger" to the car that is at least a quarter mile behind me in that lane.

Personally, I hate "Collision Alert Systems" and "Automatic Braking Systems" and any other system that "monitors the road to keep you safe".  First, they are unnecessary, because most crashes can be avoided by simply paying attention to what is going on around you.  But in today's "Always on our smartphone or playing with the in-dash internet system or even watching DVD's on a player in our laps" society, we can't pay attention to just one thing at a time.  So we apparently need our cars to monitor what's going on on the road.

Secondly, these systems become a crutch for drivers.  "The car will let me know when I'm getting too close" or "If I drift out of the lane while checking my Twitter feed, the car will beep and let me know to get back in line".  These systems are in the same vehicle that I have to press the key fob button three times to get the doors to unlock from three feet away when it is stopped in a parking lot--and yet, they are expecting the "alert systems" to work flawlessly while the car is moving at 70-miles an hour and other vehicles are approaching and moving away in a 360-degree sphere.

Rather than stuff more technology into our cars to first distract us--and then warn us when we are distracted--under the guise of being "Smart Vehicles, let's "dumb down" our cars with less technology and turn them back into what they are meant to be: machines to transport us from Point A to Point B quickly, efficiently and out of the elements.  We can call them "Smart Driver Vehicles".

No comments:

Post a Comment