No way, I’ll drive myself
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