I love technology, and I love cars, but I am coming to the realization that many technology items in cars are a burden more than a benefit.
First I should share that from a safety perspective, studies show that distracted driving is more dangerous than drunk driving. The increasing number of technology items in cars are causing people to be distracted more than ever. I myself have been guilty of this.
Navigation – Most navigation systems on cars are really bad. Unless you have a Tesla they tend to be static. Which means that as things change, they don’t and they become less useful over time. One of my cars has a 9 year old navigation system and to update it would be $400. That doesn’t make sense when you have free alternatives like Waze which are much better and smarter. So the value of this purchase decreases over time until it is useless. I am not paying for this again.
Lane Keep Assist – This is supposed to help you keep in your lane. In reality it is annoying. If road were in good condition this would be worthwhile to have. I learned from using a loaner vehicle that had this that I would never want to buy this feature. If you travel any distance in your commute, the road naturally curves and with potholes this was always going off. Trying to avoid potholes means you get a beep from the system. I can’t image a scenario where this is worthwhile.
Automatic braking warning/collision warning/blind spot monitoring – Another annoying feature. This tries to tell you that you need to brake as though you don’t realize that yourself. All of these systems are for inattentive drivers which we all are sometimes guilty of, but I think this increases inattentiveness since human nature is to trust the system. When I got used to seeing the blind spot monitoring system working, I started to trust it and not look at my blind spots. This is human nature to be lazy when given the opportunity. I don’t think I am alone in this.
Apps on the display – Some cars allow you to download apps on their entertainment systems. Things like Pandora or other stuff. This is the last thing people need. A smartphone is distracting enough, but trying to work the screen is just a recipe for disaster. As far as that goes I am not sure that Apple Car or Google car is a good idea. When I get into the car I plug in my iPhone to sometimes listen to music and then I drive and don’t touch the phone again. If I had those systems I would be tempted to play with the phone on the display. That would distract me and I don’t think that would make me any safer.
I could go on but I think you understand my concerns with technology in cars. If they directly and automatically improve safety, I am all for them. I love ABS, airbags, pretensioning seatbelts, anything that doesn’t require human intervention. Even automatic braking could be useful if it didn’t have that annoying warning. I think that we need to consider ourselves and our tendency to give ourselves reasons to be distracted with technology.