I suggest a lot of caution in suggesting that we have things like stability control mandated. They can be an extra cost option, I have no problem with that, but the sad fact is that the only drivers that they really help are the beginners, and those who simply should not be driving at all. None of those systems can handle the exception situations, and none of them have an adequate means to disable them for me to handle the exceptions. ABS on a gravel road does exactly the wrong thing every time, likewise, it also deos the wrong thing when it encounters loose material on top of pavement. The stability control is only helpful because vehicle handling has been compromised to accomodate poor drivers. In a properly set up car, meaning it has a small amout of oversteer, stability control would not add any value. The cars that sometimes could benefit from it are the ones that understeer so very horribly.
A lane-keeping warning system could be useful, but an automatic lane departure correction system could become confused very easily with the many construction lane markers that I see occasionally. And the automated collision avoidance systems would certainly make the wrong move when a large chunk of litter suddenly appeared in front of them.
So how about a speed controller system that senses driver stupidity and restricts them to a safe speed? Or it could be a driver competency detector, if we chose to use more polite language.
Yes, Chuck, that improvement is an unsung accomplishment from the auto industry. Right now we're seeing a flurry of activity to deliver even greater improvements. I'd like to see that number go down even lower. We may see that in the next few years. I remember 10 years ago during a reunion with my brothers, we asked what we expected to see in future developments. The two advances we identified were technology that would force cars to avoid collision and a device that would render drinks instantly cold that way the microwave makes drinks instantly hot. Were'nt we a clever bunch.
As I believe you have pointed out previously, Rob, that's exactly what's happening. For many years, traffic deaths in the U.S. hovered around 40,000 annually, even as the number of drivers climbed. Today, it's a little more than 30,000 and the total number of drivers is still climbing.
Yes, I agree, Chuck. The more safety items the better. Something as simple as a seatbelt has saved scores of thousands of lives. I'll like to see the number of auto deaths continue to go down even as the number of miles driven goes up.
I understand your situation, Rob. It's especially hard to put your own kids behind the wheel. That's why I'm okay with most of the recent safety features that have been added or proposed. Electronic stability control has already proven to be a help and more helpful features (collision avoidance, lanekeeping) are coming.
Chuck, I believe you have a very accurate view of the problem with drivers. As my 16-year-old started to drive this year, I said to her, "Let me guess. You're very surprised at how many bad drivers are on the road." Sure enough, as she worked hard to drive safely and well, she was amazed by how many drivers didn't seem to care. Anything we can do to minimize the damage of bad drivers is worth the effort.
With auto Manufacturers (other than Ford) hooking up with Apple, I hope Apple comes up with something revolutionary with Siri that would enable total eyes-free driving. I just cringe when I see the new iPad sized display being used that do nothing but distract driver visual attention from their driving. Siri could eliminate the need for eyes-on control.
Siri's ability to understand more than a list of command words would be a step in the right direction. The voice command system in my Toyota is terrible because it only recognizes the 20 or so, often illogical, words I have to memorize to use.
I'm curious how many accidents were not attributed (by the NTSB) to any cause? Do they even really know the extent of the problem if no one was seriously hurt? Even if someone was hurt, how would they know it was caused by distracted driving unless the perp fessed up? The fact the numbers are so high despite being such a hard to pin act implies the problem is far worse than assumed.
I remember a radio show where one of the hosts argued that smoking marijuana was OK for some people because they could afford to lose a few neurons. But for other people it was NOT OK because they had so few working neurons to start out with that the loss of even a small percentage would be catastrophic. I think the same idea goes for driving. Most people are capable of limited multitasking (some more than others, but most not as much as they assume), but there are some people that just don't belong behind the wheel at all. Making it illegal to operate a motor vehicle while not paying attention is just plain common sense. It makes those who "think they can" think some more about it because of the consequences of getting caught, and it makes those who can't think at all refrain because they've been told not to.
I remember on a ski trip to Europe (about 10 years ago), we were on a gondola that held around 50 people. We were all standing up, packed so tight it was hard to breath. A phone rang and every last person on that gondola hooped and hollered and whistled so loud the "perp" had to hang it up. Some things are more effective than laws, if only we could do that in our cars!
GoodFellow is certainly correct about the unintended consequences that come from poorly thought out emotionally driven legislation. We get a lot of that these days.
If they domsucceed in banning portable electronic devices then we will be seeing a whole lot of built-in cellular devices that "dock" the phone and make it part of a permanently installed hardwired system. With no reduction in the distraction level.
How about a serious fine for causing an accident because of being distracted? Then all the causes of distraction are covered, and nobody can complain about it being unfair. Plus, it would cover distractions that have not been invented yet, so it would be less likely to become out of date. Just consider what the threat of a $5000 ticket would do for a high school student: It would end mobile texting while driving. It might even reduce the amount some adults talk on the phone while driving, or possibly make them much more attentive. IT would be worth a try.
The assertion that there is no difference between simplex and duplex is really unfounded. It is not just that those drivers are better, it is that it takes much less concetration to converse in the push-to-talk mode. Really, it is true. Just ask those who use it now.
Rob: I, too, understand those who say that the problem isn't the electronics, it's the number of bad drivers on the road. The number of people who -- while sober -- speed, tailgate, turn from the wrong lane and don't seem to posses a vague understanding of physics, is staggering. My personal, unofficial estimate on this matter is that one in every three drivers is intellectually incapable of safely driving a car. Unfortunately, though, we're never going to get rid of those people, so we attack the symptom instead of the root cause, because it's better than doing nothing at all. That's why I'm surprised when I hear how many people resist autonomous vehicles -- to me, it seems like the only real way to get the bad drivers away from the steering wheel.
Fifty-six-year-old Pasquale Russo has been doing metalwork for more than 30 years in a tiny southern Italy village. Many craftsmen like him brought with them fabrication skills when they came from the Old World to America.
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