I don’t agree with the basic premise an author offered in an article I recently read, because he’s a big government, President Trump-hating ninny (sorry for getting so graphic). He refers to our president as an “egomaniac” and says, sarcastically, “the current administration will get to tear down a bunch of onerous [traffic] safety regulations, which is what it loves to do anyway.”
Still, being conservative and libertarian, I’m able to recognize when a big-government dolt stumbles into a poignant idea. A couple comments were interesting, and one point was even enlightened: “Make the automobile dangerous again [warning: foul language].”
The writer argues that with all the technical innovations, ABS, automatic breaking, airbags, back-up cameras, lane departure warning systems, etc., drivers may depend on these rather than their own skills. Drivers may also exploit this technology dependency, ironically, by allowing themselves to become distracted by other technological innovations such as smart phones and other electronic devices.
In my first book, “Is There a Problem, Officer?“, I wrote about distracted driving being one of the primary reasons for collisions. I also argued that offense-specific (i.e. cell phone, texting, crossword-puzzle-doing, ducking-beneath-the-dash-to-eat-a-breakfast-burrito-in-the-passenger’s-seat-while-driving [yes, I once wrote a driver a ticket for this], etc.) violations are unnecessary because most law enforcement agencies already have catchall statutes against distracted driving—no matter the distraction. However, leftist, big-government politicians can’t run on a single statute that already exists.
From the article, I gleaned three chief observations: Today, people are distracted by more devices. New vehicle safety innovations may be tempting drivers to become dependent on safety devices rather than safe driving. And the reason there are so many deaths on the roadways is because of our “giant-car addiction,” the SUV in particular. The latter, he argues incoherently, are “basically designed to kill people.”
Coincidentally, this last quote mirrors a recent article I wrote about gun control advocates making the same argument this author makes only about guns. Like gun control zealots who blame the object (AR-15) instead of the user (murderer), the author blames the object (SUV) rather than the user (driver).
Regardless, there are effective things people can do to combat driver inattention, especially for parents teaching new drivers how to operate a motor vehicle.
My wife (a retired firefighter) and I insisted on one thing when we taught each of our three kids to drive. We insisted they learn to drive a car with a manual (stick shift) transmission. Yes, it’s harder to teach than a car with an automatic transmission. But we also figured there are a bunch of shenanigans you just can’t get away with (are you sticking with me, parents?) while you have to constantly depress the clutch pedal, use one hand to steer, and use the other hand to shift. In other words, you have to drive. This might not be a bad tip for adult drivers as well.
Sadly, we never did figure out how to affect what goes on while the car is parked. Maybe a technological innovation we can work on before our grandchildren learn to drive.