I think the key is to have the computers help the operator to make decisions faster, with greater information. Being sure not to have the computer make the final decision. Because occasionally all of the data may point one direction while a human can decide that is still the best course. What would have happened in New York if the computer had tried to get to the runway rather than that pilot putting the plane down in the Potomic. Possibly a very large disaster.
Yes, it is true that most of the accidents are caused by driver error, and the main driver error is not paying enough attention to driving. Probably 80% of all of the accidents are caused by inadequate concentration on the driving task, which of course willm indeed lead to errors in actions. When the radios only had 6 buttons to select stations drivers were much less distracted then when it takes several button selections to get a specific station. But the complex radios sell for a whole lot more than the old ones, so the profit is much larger. So probably radios won't get any less complex, although more controls will go to the back side of the steering wheel. This allows tuning without looking but the distraction is just as great. The problem is in the break in attention, not in the time looking at things. At least some of the times that is the problem. So removing the need to look at things is only a small partial solution.
That stat sounds about right, Chuck. Yet, if you're not driving a big SUV, and you get hit by a big SUV, your chances of injury are elevated. Any electronic devices that can help ameliorate this situation would be very helpful.
William K: It surprised me last December when the National Transportation Safety Board called for a law that would prevent phone usage by drivers, and the response was so negative. It wasn't the electronics manufacturers weighing in, but the consumers. They were writing to newspapers and calling radio talk shows to make their case of the need for cell phones in the car. Unfortunately, it seems that drivers, especially younger ones, just can't put their phones down.
If you have antilock brakes, it is worth experimenting with them and understanding how they work under different conditions.
Almost all antilock brakes do turn off by pumping the brake pedal. If you are in a situation where you don't want antilocks to "work", pump the brakes quickly yourself, then do whatever you want. This will turn off most antilock brakes.
Pressing the brakes (not pumping them) is the proper way to stop with antilock brakes. This allows the ABS system to start pulsating if wheel lock occurs on one or more wheels.
In order to reach the upcoming CAFE standards, cars will be smaller and they will be made of lighter materials. Safety devices via electronic systems may help consumers gain confidence in smaller, lighter cars.
Antilock brakes DO assure that you will slide straight into something when you can't stop, that is true. And occasilally they can be handy, BUT there is no simple way to make them understand that the situation is an exception and that stopping the whels is the only smart move. Perhaps a means to bypass the function if I mash down hard enough on the brake pedal, since I never do that in normal driving, not even in emergency stops. Hard braking yes, but not the two-feet-on-the-pedal kind. That level of effort should bypass the pulsing and lock those wheels.
That is the reason that I don't like all of those features, which is that they don't handle exceptions well, and I happen to get into a few "exceptions" , possibly more often than some others do.
And the reason that we can't get all those other distractions out of the vehicle is really quite simple: there is too much money to be made having them there. It matters not how many thousands get killed, there is lots of profit in cell phone use while driving, and so it can never be stopped. The phone companies have way more money to spend to assure that than the tobacco companies ever had. And if you have enough money you CAN buy what you want.
Good points, William K. One of the questions we asked Jeff Owens was, "Why not take the cell phones and some of the other electronic content out of the vehicle, so that we don't need to be rescused by more electronics?" You'll have to listen to the radio show to get his answer.
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