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Are driving aids hurting or helping young drivers?

Posted in Best of, Featured, News, Safety by MrAngry | February 19th, 2011 | 10 Responses |

Driving Aids

How many of you out there have driven cars with absolutely no driving aids whatsoever? And when I say driving aids I’m talking about everything from traction control, to anti-lock brakes, to stability control. Right now it’s almost impossible to purchase a car that doesn’t come with some sort of electronic nanny that helps the driver out from both a performance and safety standpoint. I’m not complaining as these systems have no doubt saved millions of lives in the time they’ve been available. What I do wonder however is if these features are dumbing-down the modern automobile to the point where people are forgetting how to actually drive them. There is an ever growing trend to make automobiles more and more automated. The more this happens the more the human element is removed from the equation. Today’s kids who are learning to drive are doing so in cars whose job is to get them out of trouble at every turn. Again, this is not a bad thing, but I do wonder what happens to these drivers when they find themselves in situations where actual driving skill is required. I mean will they really know and understand the basics of general car control?

Driving Aids
*Photo Credit: BMWBlog

Schools still offer driver education programs, but they are little more than glorified safety courses, and only teach students the very basics about what an automobile is capable of. Hell, I know when I first learned how to drive I didn’t know shit, and because of that I promptly totaled out my first car. Regardless, I’m curious as to what everyone’s opinions are as it pertains to the driving aids that today’s cars employ. I also want to know if you think we should be able to turn them off and in the end, if new drivers really need to learn how to drive a car in a world that is taking driving out of the equation.

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10 Responses

  1. Jen says:

    Good article. My first two cars were a ’91, and ’92, respectively, with no nannies, no airbags, no nothing. My first car ended up making out with a palm tree within a little over a year of ownership because I didn’t know how to control a loss of traction on the highway. Escaped with a broken ankle and bruises. (I never had any “training” except a few goes around parking lots and the mandatory DMV quiz to get my license. Wish I’d had a real course to teach me)

    I know I have a ways to go before my 5 year old is ready to learn and it’s mind-boggling to think what cars will be capable of in 10 years.

  2. Trystan says:

    I am 17 and the most any car I’ve driven has is airbags and ABS, and that’s just because my dad made me buy a car that had dual airbags for lower cost on insurance. I really think that’s the most you should have in a car as far as driving aids are concerned for learning because that’s what most of the cars my generation has and will be driving have anyway.

  3. Mason says:

    My first truck was a 70 Dodge truck with, well.. nothing. It didn’t even have power assisted steering or brakes, but it had a 360 and straight pipes. Basically a perfect combination for stupidity when 16. But I never wrecked it or hit anything because when I was learning to drive I actually learned how to drive, and always took it seriously. I had a lot of fun in that truck and put three sets of new tires on the rear in a year, but I’m still thankful that my first truck was cheap and tough and taught me how to fix things and actually control a vehicle. My current car, a 2003, actually only has front airbags, not even ABS surprisingly and I’ve actually turned down the idea of buying some new cars because of all the nannies in them, sad really. Looks like I might not own anything newer than a 2007.

  4. Canrith says:

    I’m young enough to be in the generation that should have learned with the assist, luckily I didn’t. My camaro does have a ton of assist, and most can be disabled with removal of non vital fuses, others with stock switches.

    Everytime I hear about a new piece of tech that should excite me such as the lane drift alerts and collision alerts I cringe because it means drivers can be even more in-attentive and care even less about driving.

    The slippery slope sucks. Please excuse my crudeness.

  5. Set says:

    I own a ’98 Wrangler with no nannies at all. No ABS, Traction Control, automatic transmission, nothin’. The luxuries I have are power steering, power brakes and an airbag, everything else is manual. It’s that much better for offroading, and even better for onroad attentiveness. That thing will kill me if I don’t pay attention to it.

  6. eddie _357 says:

    its scary,its allmost like throwing babies in the deep end.luckily i had motorsports nuts in my family to show me the ropes.quite basic you have to take a car to its limits to see what its limits are.at least traction control should be able to be disengaged,then appreciated.now lot of my friends have the means to be able to obtain high-end sports sedans and were embarassed to find they couldnt drive them all that well,then found local SCCA events, which is helpful imo with at least helping people become much more comfortable with their cars,and get the guidance from other like minded people.its like driving school later in life. maybe they should promote it better to get people involved earlier

  7. ChrisQ says:

    My first car was a 89′ Toyota pick up truck, which my Dad left certain parts “broken” so I wouldn’t venture out more than a 30 miles radius from home. The car had power steering, and that was about it. After driving the car for two years, I learned how to control a car if it hydroplaned, how to control your car if it decided to fishtail, and what to do when your car decides to stall out when you’re driving up hill. I was scared shit-less of the car as a teenager because of all the problems I had.
    In retrospect, I learned how to handle dangerous road situations. Ultimately, understanding the physical limitations of driving isn’t common place. Having these nannies makes the road safer for all us since we all share the road, both experienced and novice alike.

  8. MrAngry says:

    It’s interesting because people have different ideas on the subject. Some feel that the technology is so good that there is no need for people to understand the basics of driving dynamics. Others (like myself and most of you) feel that if you don’t learn the basics that you’re doing yourself and others around you a disservice. It’s like anything else, you need to walk before you can run and teaching new drivers to do this will ALWAYS be a good thing in my opinion.

  9. Sean says:

    My first car was, and still is my daily driver, a 1978 mustang II. It has manual seat belts, came stock with power steering, but it never worked since i got it, and I don’t have any need for it, and power brakes. The power breaks went on me within my first week of driving, so I learned quick how to brake from a good distance. My carburetor was all sorts of funky when I got it, and stalled out in the middle of several intersections. My tranny was leaking, and slipped into neutral A LOT before i knew what the hell I was doing. I’ve had total break loss, and drove for about a month with a single brake working, front passenger, on manual brakes. TL:DR People who have driven without any additives are better drivers IMHO.

  10. My first vehicle was a 79 Chevy truck with a special sort of cruise control that occurred when the secondaries on the quadrajet would stick open, causing the truck to want to go 50mph at least. I did not know much about anything, but with a little experimentation behind the wheel I found out how to get the vacuum of the engine just right to suck them closed after they opened up.

    After I shelled the transmission on that clunker I bought a 1996 Dodge Neon. It’s contribution to driving aids was defrost and windshield wipers. Say what you will about these cars, but I have learned to drive in every sort of weather in a Dodge Neon. Ice,sleet, 1 foot of snow, wind, rain, water, and anything else you can think of. I have had almost every year they have made and only one had anti lock brakes.

    I have no need for a car to look after me. Can the same be said of todays new drivers, initiated in the age of driving aids? Switch off the anti lock brakes and I know that I can come to a stop in the ice, been there done.

    I have also never wrecked a single one of my cars and without going into detail I can say I have done things that should not be done with a car.

    When it is time for me to ‘upgrade’ to something that has these driving aids, I would like the ability to switch them off if I choose.