Monday, May 12, 2014

Understanding what's important and what isn't when you're driving.

I saw an advert from Subaru recently that was promoting their idea for driver aids, arguing that a second pair of eyes is always safer. And they're right - if your passenger sees something you've missed, they can alert you to it. If that passenger happens to be a drone car, or radar, Subaru argue this is a good thing. I'm not getting into that debate again, but the point is that they advertised this using a worrying phrase. Specifically this: "what if you need to read an urgent text message?"
Well then you pull over and you read it. Because I'm not sure about you, but last time I looked, no text message was more important or urgent than the actual safe driving of the vehicle you're in. And this is a problem today - too many people treat driving as the "second" thing they do when they're in a car.
It's amazing and appalling to see how many people just don't understand that they're piloting a two-ton weapon. When you're doing that, the act of driving should be the all-encompassing primary function. There shouldn't be a distraction that prevents you from being able to hold focus and concentrate on what you're doing. Looking down at a text (or worse, replying) is the same as cleaning the trigger of a loaded gun whilst it's pointing at your best friend.
Worryingly, rather than try to educate people about this, Subaru are suggesting that they have the answer with a system that monitors the inside of the car - "EyeSight PreCollision Throttle Management". In short - if the car thinks you're distracted, it reduces throttle input. ie. to the car behind, you just slowed down with no brake lights. For you as the driver, your car just took control away from you without notice. (of course, if you're texting, you wouldn't notice anyway). This is in addition to its forward-looking radar and other tech they want to introduce. All to compensate for a population unwilling to take responsibility for their own actions.
Here's a fun thought experiment for you: 26% of all wrecks in the US are now attributable to phone use - either talking or texting. That's a considerable number of dead and injured people as a result of drivers who didn't understand that there's no such thing as an "urgent" phone call or text when you're driving.
So why is it that when 13 people died over the course of 10 years, because of a sketchy ignition switch, we force GM to have the most expensive recall in motoring history. Yet when thousands of people die every year because of distracted driving, we're wholly unwilling to address the problem?
That's messed up.
Source : 26% of wrecks involve phone use