There’s a lot of talk lately about the newest technology in vehicles. Apparently, they’ve figured out how to allow our car to “drive itself.” Also, the car can correct for things drivers don’t happen to notice, like the car in front of us suddenly braking, or a small child running into the street.
Call me an old fogey, but it smacks a little of allowing drivers to: (a) not allow assured clear distance, (b) be more attentive to their phones than the people on the street, and (c) trusting our lives to this man-made technology.
I’m not convinced. Perhaps I would be convinced if the current technology in cars was flawless, but in my case, that’s simply not even close to reality.
Four years ago, when we purchased our new car (and it’s really nice), we noticed a small glitch in the digital system. It has a camera that allows us to see when backing, which is a very nice feature. However, when you start the car and put it in reverse (as we almost always have to do to pull out of the garage), the camera immediately engages. This is a good thing. What is not a good thing is that the tape player automatically comes on, as well, even if you turned it off when you left the car. It’s not possible to turn it off when in reverse. It took us a few weeks to learn that we had to turn the tape player off, select radio, and turn that off, whenever we parked in the garage.
I mentioned this at our first service call, and the response was pretty much “Oh, really? That’s interesting.” We tested out a newer model last year, and the same thing happened. So apparently, I’m the only one who cared about that little glitch.
Last week, Matt and I were running errands and we both had our keys fobs with us. After getting coffee, we stopped to pick up some eggs. Matt left the car running so I could sip coffee and listen to my audio CD, and left the car (with his fob). I was still in the car with my fob, but the car did not like this. We determined the car was unhappy after Matt returned. As we drove home, the car kept locking and then unlocking the doors. We tried the childproof lock, but no change. We tried to manually lock and unlock the doors, but it kept it up. Kuh-chunk. Pffft. Kuh-chunk. Pfft. All the way home.
Finally, Matt stopped the car and turned the engine off. When we started again, the locks were fine.
Okay, that’s just weird. Further, it doesn’t inspire me to believe I’ll be happy as a lark if and when my car will be able to drive itself and we weave through traffic. In fact, I’m pretty sure my anxiety about technology’s imperfections will cause me significant health issues — like heart palpitations, panic attacks, and raised blood pressure.
What do you think? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sue is a retired public servant who volunteers at the Hospice store (For All Seasons) in Troy and teaches part-time at Urbana University. She keeps busy taking care of husband, house, and pets. She and her husband have an adult son who lives in Troy.