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"Smart" Safety Systems May Make You Stupider

Posted November 25, 2011 12:00 AM by CarDomain

According to a new MIT study, many of the fabulous new technologies intended to take the awareness and the work out of driving-like blind-spot warnings, lane-departure shepherds, crash-avoidance nannies, and so on-may actually make drivers more likely to cause accidents due to distraction. It's true, a lot of those bells and whistles take a lot of your attention, especially the first time they get you: I was genuinely startled when one of my press cars (I'm pretty sure it was the gadget-bedeviled M37S) chimed while I was driving on the highway and flashed a billboard in the gauge cluster that shouted "BRAKE"-when there was nothing in front of me. Furthermore, they give you a false sense of confidence: if the blindspot beeper doesn't chirp, you're clear to change lanes without shoulder-checking, right? And if you're glued to the video image coming from your backup camera, you can forget to remember that the truck coming down the street to t-bone you while you're backing out of the driveway would actually be in your peripheral vision. This is really what's most annoying about the new automotive technologies: they distance you from the experience of driving, they reduce your visibility, they dull your situational awareness-and then they purport to sell these things back to you in the form of expensive and failure-prone gadgetry. But clearly, all this junk is here to stay, and consumers clamor for it constantly, so it's really up to the automakers to implement it in a way that doesn't make a distracted driving public even more inept at the task of driving.

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#1

Re: "Smart" Safety Systems May Make You Stupider

11/26/2011 8:03 AM

I wonder how much more it costs to buy a car with a built in back seat driver. I think the idea is to transition people into driverless cars so they won't be distracted by driving while talking on the cell.

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#2

Re: "Smart" Safety Systems May Make You Stupider

11/26/2011 9:47 AM

The only safety feature I wanted never took off in an affordable way, the night vision driving system.

Utterly (largely) useless in town, it could see a deer in the dark at four times the distance headlights could.

But so little of the driving public ever drives where it is actually dark....

It was available (kitted or junkyarded) for thousands, so I never built one either.

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#3

Re: "Smart" Safety Systems May Make You Stupider

11/26/2011 3:24 PM

I enjoy riding motorcycles partly because I am forced rely on my own vigilance to keep from being crushed.

Many drivers are just too lazy to anticipate a mile ahead, scan for animals, side traffic, gaining traffic, potholes, debris, and constantly plan how to avoid any potential threat.

Riding requires a level of concentration that forces me to reduce the priority of any other worries.

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: "Smart" Safety Systems May Make You Stupider

12/06/2011 1:28 PM

I don't ride motorcycles, but I enjoy driving for the fun and pleasure of it whenever possible. Too many people on the road pay too little attention to the road or what is going on around them. They make no attempt to improve their driving skills to proficient never mind to the skilled level. The inattention of most drivers drives my wife crazy even when I am the one driving us somewhere.

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