Monday, November 29th, 2010...1:50 pm

Safety Features Make Better Drivers

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This article made me think back to the class Jake and I taught way back on safety.  One of the new trends in safety features is the inclusion of technologies that allow the car to take a more active role in driving.  Car makers are rushing to put in collision detection sensors, lane line sensors, drowsiness senors, and all sorts of other things to enable the car to detect potential problems and either alert the driver or just slam on the brakes all by itself, thereby avoiding a potential accident.  This sparked a debate over how much is too much and whether we as drivers feel comfortable relinquishing control (which after all is one of the primary emotional draws of the car). There were fears that people would become too reliant on these technological crutches and become worse drivers.

The article seems to have found an overlooked compromise in this debate.  For the author, the alerts that the car made were so annoying that he forced himself to become a better driver just so he wouldn’t have to hear them.  In this light, having all these sensors feels like driving around with your father in the car all the time.  I would never get lazy and start relying on my dad to tell me when to brake; instead, I would drive a lot better just to shut him up.

However, this compromise only seems to apply to this sort of middle ground of human control with an automatic safety net.  From what I read in preparation for the class, it seems that the safest and most traffic-efficient method would be to fully automate cars and put them in a communication network with all the other cars so they can work together to get everyone where they need to go.  Personally, I like the idea of laying back with a book/movie and letting my car take care of everything, but then I was never that big on driving anyway.

http://www.boston.com/cars/newsandreviews/overdrive/2010/11/2011_volvo_s60_making_better_d.html



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