Icy roads

Modern cars have made bad drivers

It seems today every where you look people are complaining about bad drivers.  It’s modern safety features in car that are making us all bad drivers.

In the ’80’s most cars had power steering and power brakes.  That was it.  Yet people got around in 6″s of snow.  They drove to school and work on ice covered roads.  Avoiding many weather related accidents with the skill of driving.  With new cars, you’ve got ABS, Traction Control, and Anti-Skid.  These are all safety features allowing a person to not think about road conditions because the car thinks for you.

Are they really safety features?

Many new cars have automatic braking. Blind spot detection.  Rear back up camera’s, and the federally mandated ABS, Electronic Stability Control, and traction control.  Many new cars will do everything but drive for you.  Although they can park for you.  Some new cars will turn the power steering off and apply individual brakes to keep you going in a straight line and prevent rollovers under hard braking on ice and other slick conditions.  Is this really safe?

When a car starts sliding on ice. Having the power steering shut down to prevent from over correction.  Can cause just as much of a problem as if it didn’t.  Without power steering you have far less chance of avoiding hitting  things in your way.  Is it really safe to not have full control of your vehicle when you need it the most?

Anti-Lock Braking Systems

By definition ABS prevents your wheels from locking up.  This has it’s benefits.  It allows you control of your steering wheels under hard braking on slick roads.  Anyone who has ever driving a car without ABS knows on ice when you lock the brakes you can turn the wheel any way you want but you are going straight.  By pumping you’re brakes thousands of times a second ABS is designed to slow your car down without locking up your tires.  The problem with ABS is that it takes longer to stop your vehicle.

Another down side of ABS systems is that it gives you a false sense of protection.  Making it really hard to feel just how slick the roads until it’s too late.  People drive more reckless knowing they don’t have to worry about locking up their brakes and running into someone.  What happens when you have can’t stop in time, or there is no where to steer to avoid hitting something?

Traction Control

Just like 4WD in a truck, traction control lets you drive on slick roads without spinning your tires.  This has it’s benefits.  It gives you the ability to easily get moving when the roads are very slick.  It doesn’t help you stop any faster.  Nor does it give you any sense of the actual road conditions.  For years people got around on snow and ice without traction control.  Back before we had traction control people had to be skilled at knowing how much gas to give their car.  They also used snow tires and chains.  The benefit to those it they helped stop you also.

Electronic Stability Control

Electronic Stability Control is designed to help maintain vehicle stability under slick and high speed turning.  It determines when tires are loosing traction and then applies individual brakes to help gain control of the vehicle.  This system uses your ABS system to maintain control of your vehicle.  It’s main idea is to prevent you from fishtailing your car.  Talk about taking the fun out of driving on ice.  The problem with this is that it can and will bring your vehicle to a complete stop.  You don’t always want your vehicle stopping on ice.  This can be a very dangerous safety feature.  Stopping on ice when the guy behind you can’t stop is a huge problem.

Is safety making us bad drivers?

If your car thinks for you, it’s called a safety feature.  It’s really preventing people from having to learn to drive.  30 years ago over half the drivers on the road could drive a manual transmission if they had to.  Today you’d be hard pressed to find someone who can drive a 5 speed transmission.  30 years from now you may not  find someone who can parallel park a car.  What happens when people don’t know how to stop a car on ice without ABS?  How will people handle driving on slick roads without traction control?

All of these “safety features” are keeping people from learning how to drive a car safely.  You no longer have to learn skills for operating vehicles on bad roads.  All of this is making it easy for drivers to pay less attention when driving.  Making for some very scaring driving conditions for those who have learned how to operate a motor vehicle in all sorts of weather.

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