No way, I’ll drive my­self

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News - PAUL GOVER CHIEF RE­PORTER paul.gover@cars­guide.com.au This re­porter isonTwit­ter @paulward­gover

I LIKE to drive.

So it fol­lows, fairly nat­u­rally, that I do not like cars that try to drive for me. In­for­ma­tion is good. Dom­i­na­tion is bad.

So I like big dig­i­tal speedome­ters, blind-spot warn­ing sys­tems and re­vers­ing cam­eras, but I’m against au­to­matic park­ing, radar cruise con­trols and any­thing that can in­flu­ence the steer­ing.

My per­sonal jury is still out on au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing, but I think it’ll prob­a­bly get a tick.

The rea­son for this re­luc­tance runs all the way back to the first cars I drove with anti-skid brak­ing sys­tems, a BMW5 Se­ries and a Honda Ac­cord. I can clearly re­mem­ber the wheels of the Ac­cord chat­ter­ing and skid­ding as I tried a panic stop, but the 5 was worse.

I was driv­ing on a gravel road when I needed to brake for a cor­ner. I did, but the car did not, and I can clearly pic­ture to this day the tree I nar­rowly missed as I ar­rowed off the road with the ABS sys­tem work­ing – or not – pre­cisely as the engi­neers in­tended.

Then there was a Lexus that ap­plied emer­gency brak­ing power when an­other driver cut into my lane and im­pacted the beam for the over-sen­si­tive radar cruise con­trol; a Camry that cut en­gine power just when I needed it in a cor­ner; and a Volk­swa­gen that re­fused to ac­cel­er­ate from a Stop sign be­cause I was hold­ing the car on the brake at the same time as tick­ling the throt­tle.

Last year a Mercedes-Benz swerved me into the path of an on­com­ing car when it de­tected that I had drifted over the white line when, in fact, I was gen­tly eas­ing away from a po­ten­tial head-on smash.

I was over­whelmed this week by the VW Golf and a bank of safety equip­ment that in­cludes a fa­tigue mon­i­tor, radar cruise con­trol, au­to­matic wipers and lights, au­to­matic park­ing and even multi-col­li­sion brak­ing to stop the car af­ter a crash.

A lot of this stuff is good, and there’s no doubt that it should make our roads safer. But it’s also en­cour­ag­ing a breed of drivers who are really just pas­sen­gers, re­ly­ing on their cars to save them from them­selves.

And that can­not be good.

Don’t they al­ready do this?

Au­to­ma­tion is turn­ing drivers into pas­sen­gers

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