Cars today come equipped with a full host of safety features that allow us to see behind our vehicles when we back up, warn us when someone is in our blind spot, and alert us if we’re drifting into another lane. For the most part, these are great features. They undoubtedly save lives and prevent crashes. But how do they affect our ability as drivers? Are they causing us to take mental shortcuts and develop lazy driver habits? Do we rely too much on safety features and not enough on our own alertness and observation?
At DC Clear Auto Bra, we want our clients to be as safe as possible when they’re behind the wheel. Let’s take a closer look at some of the up-and-coming automated features in our cars and how they could turn us into bad drivers if we’re not careful.
Let’s start with the most basic feature. More cars than ever now come with a standard backup camera to help drivers avoid running into things – or people – when they throw their car into reverse. This is a wonderful feature to have, and we are all for it.
Problems arise when drivers rely solely on the backup camera to tell them they’re clear to back up. The cameras are intended to be used in addition to, not instead of, manual mirror checks and turning to look behind you. A backup camera does not present a full view like physically turning around to look to the sides and behind you does. To be as safe as possible, use it as a tool, but not as your entire backup strategy.
Automated parking systems are a fairly new thing in the US, but they’ve been around in Europe and Asia for decades. The idea behind automated parking garages is that every square foot counts, so each car is automatically parked with very little space in between it and its neighbors. Some garages are shaped like towers where the cars are lifted and slid into parking spaces stacked on ascending vertical levels.
This is a great space-saver for crowded city parking, but when you come to rely on automated parking every day, you can get out of practice fitting your vehicle into tight spaces when necessary. Imagine you have to parallel park in front of a building downtown, and the only available space is a tight squeeze. It’s good to keep your manual parking skills sharp to avoid bumping into other vehicles in small spaces.
Tesla shook the automotive world when they released autopilot mode in their Model S and Model X cars. It was meant to be an advanced driver aid, taking over control of the brakes and steering system while the driver looked on and made sure everything was operating smoothly.
Some drivers place too much faith in autopilot, focusing their attention on games or books, or even falling asleep while the car drives itself. This has resulted in crashes and legal consequences for the drivers. Autopilot technology is not where it needs to be in order to have a truly safe self-driving experience.
Decreased Confidence and Attention Spans
Perhaps the greatest harm of automated vehicle technology is the way it negatively impacts driver confidence and attention span. Constantly checking alerts and small screens while you drive can cause accidents and traffic violations. Drivers who rely on automated systems might not have the confidence to perform tasks without the technological crutches they’ve grown accustomed to. We recommend learning to park, drive, and back up the old-fashioned way, just in case your car’s technology fails.
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