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For Safer Cars, Less Is More

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On: Tue, Jan 14, 2014 at 7:08AM | By: Karen Cook

For Safer Cars, Less Is More

I’m all for technology. We live in an age when cool new gadgets appear almost daily. Everything from our home appliances to our vehicles are connected with each other, can be controlled from almost anywhere, and most of them will respond to voice commands. The theory is that all this technology makes life easier and, in the case of driving, safer. But does it really solve the problem?

Automakers are continuously trying to outdo each other when in comes to in-car “infotainment” systems. Our cars can do almost anything we ask, from choosing music and finding parking spaces to giving directions and predicting dangerous traffic situations. Most of these systems have been designed so that the driver doesn’t have to take his eyes off the road. Presumably this will cut down on distractions and give the driver more opportunity to focus on the task at hand.

This wasn’t a problem in the early days of automobiles. The only distractions early drivers had to deal with were the passengers in the vehicle. There was no question of what to play on the radio because there wasn’t one. There were a few buttons or switches which were used solely to operate the car and didn’t require constant attention. There was one gauge to tell you how fast you were going and one to tell you how much gas you had. It was the driver’s responsibility to watch for speed limit signs and glance at the speedometer occasionally. Fuel could be monitored with the same quick look.

I understand the desire for fancy extras in your car, but if it's safety we’re concerned with, isn’t less so much more? Instead of making all these gadgets easier to use, why not take them out altogether? Fewer distractions available will mean more focus on actually driving the car. If you want a “safe technology” suggestion how ‘bout something embedded in the car that disables your phone when you get in? You can’t text if the phone doesn’t work in the car. People have gotten where they needed to be (which is the point of a vehicle, after all) for a hundred years without the aid of technology.

By the by, less technology in a vehicle would also lower the price.


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