By on March 3, 2016

Front Pedestrian Braking, a new active safety technology available on the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu and 2016 Cadillac CT6, is one of many safety features tested at General Motors' new Active Safety Test Area at the Milford Proving Ground in Milford, Michigan. Image: Jeffrey Sauger/General Motors

Isaac writes:

Recently my family was sitting around the table discussing how my youngest sister will obtain her driving permit in a month to begin the wonderful process of becoming a licensed driver. The interesting part of this conversation, and the part I hope you can offer some advice, is when we talked about safety. Are modern cars too safe for beginner drivers?

While many publications and parents say new drivers should be placed in the safest vehicle possible, I have struggled with this concept and can only wonder how safety equipment in car affects new drivers. Comparing the two vehicles that my parents are considering giving to my youngest sister, my older sister’s 2002 Saturn SC2 or my mom’s old 2008 Ford Taurus X, there is a big difference in the safety between these cars. My sister and I were given cars that lacked ABS, side or curtain airbags, ESP, and traction control. Not having features, like AB, taught my sister to be more attentive in slippery conditions.

While I will not argue against the safety these systems provide, nor their existence, I can only wonder if we are hindering the drivers of tomorrow. I wonder how modern features like blind spot monitoring, radar based cruise control, and backup cameras will affect new drivers. Personally, I like to think I am a better driver today because of the lack of safety features I had in my first couple of cars.

Any thoughts?


Sajeev answers:

My gut says that net-net, improvements in driving safety technology make us safer. My reasoning concerns other technologies distracting drivers at an alarming rate. Even if you pump your brakes faster than ABS, catch oversteer better than any yaw sensor, you can’t protect distracted drivers from injuring/killing themselves. Or bumping you, forcing you off the road and skidding into a tree.

There are valid reasons to create these features, once safety became a legitimate selling point. Safety features are a profit center: automated or electronically-assisted driving enhancements on an otherwise low(er) margin car make good money while contributing to the motoring public’s overall health.

A win-win, no?

Perhaps you are a better driver because you mastered driving a vehicle without modern safety tech: go prove it on a roadcourse during an instructional event if so inclined. But I am sure you can’t out brake ABS on a slick road, especially after a long day at work with an exhausted mind and a weary body.

My first car was a ’65 Ford Galaxie with, among other glaring tech deficiencies, possessed manual brakes and a windscreen that fogged up with every rainstorm (no factory air conditioning). I can assure you it was unpleasant when the going got rough. While I loved the Galaxie dearly, during the two weeks I used my brother’s 1985 Thunderbird 30th Anniversary before it was sold, it “sold me” on tech advancements.

So when that distracted driver crosses the middle line on wet pavement, forcing you off the road while active handling straightens up rear end wiggle on that dirt/gravel shoulder so you can re-enter with minimal shock and stress, you’ll thank your lucky stars you have those goodies to save your bacon.

[Image: Jeffrey Sauger/General Motors]

Send your queries to [email protected]. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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111 Comments on “Piston Slap: Save Bacon or Save Face?...”


  • avatar
    dwford

    I think the question is akin to asking if kids today are worse off because they have word processing apps on their computers instead of learned to type correctly on a typewriter. Am I worse off because I don’t know how to churn butter or start a fire without matches? I’m not insulting the questioner, just saying that time marches on and things change.

    That said, a bigger part of safety today seems to be the struggle to focus on the task at hand and avoid distracted driving with our cellphones, and paying attention to other drivers struggling with the same.

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      Well said dwford.

      I want to lament the lack of driving skill due to nanny gadgets. But the human race has prospered precisely because of its ability to liberate itself from lower level functions through technology, and proceed to a higher level. And while I feel like shooting myself for saying this, checking your Facebook status IS in fact a “higher level” of function than, say, threshold braking.

    • 0 avatar
      facelvega

      A. I think you would be better off knowing how to churn butter and start a fire without matches, or, in this case how to drive a manual or get a car back under control when it is sliding on an icy road, even if you never really need to. It’s not about progress, many of the people I know at work who can do complex 3d modeling can also hand-build their own 3d printer, and for that matter some of them are flannel-clad beardos who churn their own butter. There’s just knowing how to do things and not knowing how to do them.

      What scares me on the road is people in new Subaru Outbacks and Priuses, the ones who really need automated driving pronto. It’s breathtaking to see people swerving all over the road and merging without looking while talking on their iphone in a car that comes standard with bluetooth. I’m willing to bet that not one of them knows a damn about butter.

  • avatar
    Notadude

    I agree with dw. The biggest worry I have when driving is the other drivers, not just young ones either, looking down constantly to see what’s happening on their cell phones. I like the idea of being in control of the car I’m driving, it’s everybody else who scares the crap out of me.

    I also like when old ladies driving SUVs in my neighborhood have blind spot monitoring so they don’t bash into my small car.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Those old ladies are much better off in their CRV with backup cam than they were/are in a giant Town Car where they can’t see out the back or judge the size of the thing.

  • avatar
    RangerM

    The question seems to be, “Is technology an acceptable substitute for skill”?

    I can’t out-brake an ABS, but I adjust my driving (ie. SLOW DOWN) when driving in slick conditions.

    I can’t see out of the back of my head, but I can turn my head if the mirror (or camera) isn’t effective.

    How many people can’t (or don’t) recognize when the technology fails (or is failing) them?

    I may not need to know how to use a sliderule, but I need to be able to know there’s a problem when the calculator is telling me 2+2=5.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Technology doesn’t prevent you from slowing down in slick conditions or turning your head to look behind you. I have ESC, TC, and backup cameras in my 4Runner, but I still use good driving habits so I don’t need those things. I still want them, though, for that 1 time that my judgment is poor.

      • 0 avatar
        RangerM

        @Quentin

        Maybe you can you tell when the technology is giving you incorrect results in time to prevent a problem.

        But, for most of those used to relying on it, my guess is they can’t.

        See Air France Flight 447 for an example of what I mean.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          On the one hand you have 447 on the other there hasn’t been a fatality aboard a domestic commercial passenger jet in the US since 2007. That says a lot for technology.

        • 0 avatar
          Quentin

          I don’t think that Air France situation is relevant at all. If your ABS fails, you can still brake the car as you normally would. If ESC fails, you can still drive the car as you normally would. The light indicating failure tells you to be more cautious, but the way you drive shouldn’t fundamentally change. Letting a plane run on autopilot is MILES different than flying manually. If you are driving a car in such a way that ABS and ESC are working all the time and you have to recognize when they aren’t working right, you are an accident waiting to happen anyway.

          I’m rusty on my flight dynamics as I haven’t done anything in aerospace since college, but my brief time in a CAE flight simulator was eyeopening about the amount of skill required to fly. It sounds like on 447, the gauges were not telling the pilots the correct information and that is what ultimately led to the stall. The car equivalent would be your speedometer not working, your glass fogged up, and your radar cruise control having failed.

          • 0 avatar
            jhefner

            That is correct Quentin, and a good analogy. Flight 447 was flying in a severe thunderstorm in the middle of the night when the pitot tubes froze over. So they had no indication of airspeed, without airspeed, the computer gave up.

            The fact that the pilots were not mentally engaged only sealed their fate; even if they were actually flying the plane, with no airspeed indication, no horizon to see, and in severe weather, their chances of doing the right thing was almost slim to none.

            Another good example is Sajeev’s Galaxie 500 doing 65 down a highway in the middle of the night when suddenly he runs into a thunderstorm and the windows fog up, and the rain reduces visibility to near zero. An experienced driver may be able to make their way to the next underpass and pull over and wait it out; a less experienced driver without today’s driving aids may end up in the opposite lane or in the ditch trying to get there.

          • 0 avatar
            319583076

            “The fact that the pilots were not mentally engaged only sealed their fate; even if they were actually flying the plane, with no airspeed indication, no horizon to see, and in severe weather, their chances of doing the right thing was almost slim to none.”

            This is factually incorrect. Competent pilots can, and have, flown various aircraft successfully without airspeed indicators. The tragedy of AF 447 is that the pilots failed to competently perform their duties resulting the death of all aboard.

          • 0 avatar
            RangerM

            @Quentin
            I agree the situations are different (and certainly the degree of severity), but the point was the technology failed, and the pilots didn’t know how to recognize the failure, much less respond to it.

            I see that as relevant, because I witness people who know how to use the hell out of an iPhone who don’t realize the cash register just told them to give the incorrect change.

            That same person will drive a years’ old, poorly-maintained car with similar technologies you’ve listed (above) on the same road as you and your children at highway speeds.

            That’s your accident waiting to happen and, to an extent, technology has made it more likely, imo.

            If we disagree, that’s ok.

          • 0 avatar
            derekson

            The ultimate problem with AF447 was the idiot copilot that kept pulling up on the stick when they needed to regain velocity to generate lift and stop descending. He put the plane into stall and it dropped like a rock.

            When the Captain tried to drop the nose and gain speed, he wasn’t able to because the system averaged out the inputs from both sticks and he didn’t realize the copilot was panicking and pulling back fully on the stick like a moron who doesn’t know the basic elements of flying an airplane.

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            “When the Captain tried to drop the nose and gain speed, he wasn’t able to because the system averaged out the inputs from both sticks and he didn’t realize the copilot was panicking and pulling back fully on the stick like a moron who doesn’t know the basic elements of flying an airplane.”

            Just wanted to add that the copilot was the most junior of the 3 pilots on board. Also, the flight sticks were designed to move independently, just in case one pilot passed out and slumped over the controls, the other could still move the yoke But after this tragedy, they are reconsidering that design.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    My oldest son will turn 16 in about ten years, and cars will have even more self driving and active safety features than are available on the new car market today.

    What to do? Do we save up for the next 10 years and buy a Tesla Model X, so that he’s prepared for the future?

    Or do I get an antique pickup truck (or Jeep Wrangler) without ABS/TCS/auto-braking/etc, and teach him the skills that I mastered as a teenager and that my grandfather would appreciate?

    Also, my wife has only really had 2 cars over her driving life (she’s just starting on her 3rd), and she could be more versitile behind the wheel.

    I think my answer is going to be to do both. I really like the idea of a father-son project where we fix up an old car before he gets his driver’s license, and he seems receptive to the idea. (Maybe he’d like to fix up a 2010 Jeep Wrangler in 2025?)

    I’m likely to be commuting in some sort of high tech EV by then, so he should learn to drive that too. And he should learn to drive whatever his mom is driving, too. We’re a milti-career family, we’ll be a multi-car family for th foreseeable future – so he should learn to drive them all, and learb use the right vehicle for the right job.

    So, we’ll just teach him to drive every car we have – regardless of its age.

    My answer is to do both.

    Why force the kid into only one car?

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      A lot will change in the next decade, Luke,
      It’s entirely possible your kid won’t have interest in driving or even need to.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      My daughter is 3. If we have near autopilot vehicles at the time she would learn how to drive, I think I’d rather get her a shifter kart if she has an interest in driving. Why not let her really enjoy driving if she wants to learn rather than navigating all of the self driving cars, traffic, and weather conditions. I’m pretty certain that we will still be driving ourselves in 13 years, though.

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    Safety equipment aside, usually it’s easier for a new driver to learn things in a smaller car with better sight lines. The Taurus X is basically a minivan. Probably not the easiest thing to learn how to parallel park. Perhaps once she gets down the actual skill and mechanics of driving, she might prefer the X, but if it becomes hers, she’ll end up being the one picking up all the friends who don’t have their own cars.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Skills like threshold brake pumping and the like are no longer necessary. Seriously, when is the last time you heard of an ABS system or stability control module failing?

    Not to mention, modern tires are excellent. A decent set of all seasons like Continental DWS06s will have something like a run of the mill Civic gripping at close to or more than 0.9gs.

    Cars aren’t making people worse drivers because most cars on the road today don’t have the latest in safety tech. Who are these folks who are made of money that are buying their kids brand new cars? Average age of cars on the road in the US is like 12 years old, and the average car is something like a Ford F150 or Honda Accord- I’m not even sure the average 12 year old models of those have much beyond ABS and airbags.

    The gap is in the skills and knowledge of the driver, which is a detriment in any car. Drivers today don’t understand concepts like the traction circle, what safe following distances are, or why checking tweets while driving is a bad idea. IMO instilling good driving habits goes much further than needlessly putting your loved ones at risk to teach them a lesson. They can do everything right and get creamed by some idiot. God forbid that happens but if it does why would you want them to be in something that kills their chances of survival?

    Naw, minimizing injury, staying alive and not having unnecessary accidents is a great thing.

    • 0 avatar
      brenschluss

      “Seriously, when is the last time you heard of an ABS system or stability control module failing?”

      The last time I drove a car with ESC, it failed and put the car into limp mode until it was restarted.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        OK, that’s 1 data point. Let’s get the other couple billion before drawing conclusions.

        IMO the fact that we haven’t seen any lawsuits or recalls stemming from these issues = it’s a non issue.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          As per my post has happened to two of my vehicles, in the past few years.

        • 0 avatar
          Quentin

          The better question is how many times have you had ABS or ESC fail while you were using the feature?

          As I said above, your ABS or ESC failing doesn’t make your vehicle handle or brake inadequately.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            In my case, it was a rental car on a skidpad, and it eventually just gave up from sheer abuse. So it failed as a direct result of use, and did cause a loss of function, but this probably isn’t a common scenario.

            I wasn’t making any sort of judgement on the main thrust of that post, just saying that you can break ESP through brute force if you want to, and frankly I had a great time doing it.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        We see cars and trucks all the time at the auctions with Service stability control lights on, ABS lights on and other messages. It’s far more common when the vehicles age.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “When is the last time you heard of an ABS system or stability control module failing?

      Someone drives too many Hondas.

      No one is going to file a lawsuit over the ABS or TRACTION light illuminating in their New Beetle or Olds Intrigue.

      That said, I agree with your overall point.

  • avatar
    319583076

    Anytime I buy a new car one of the first acclimating tasks is engaging ABS and other safety tech.

    If you’ve never felt/heard/experienced ABS engagement, you won’t be prepared for that experience when you need it and it’s possible you will react unfavorably, i.e. – releasing the brake or distracting yourself.

    For a new driver my advice is simple – in a controlled environment, new drivers should be walked through the safety features of their primary vehicle and then asked to engage those features in order to become familiar with them.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      ^ This.

      I still remember the very first time that ABS activated on me, violently vibrating the brake pedal and pushing it back up what felt like an inch (probably was much less).

      I initially had no idea what was happening, and my response was to take my foot off of the brake pedal altogether (which of course is the wrong thing to do).

      Traction control engaging on some cars can give the driver a similar feeling.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Sir Alex Issigonis, the man behind the original Mini, once complained that when he tried to increase automobile safety by improving the capabilities of the vehicle, people changed their driving habits in ways that used up the improvements without increasing safety. Paying attention to electronic distractions is an example.

    For people who have no interest in automobiles or driving beyond mere transportation, safety features, especially ones that presage autonomous vehicles, enable them to do other things during the trip so that their time isn’t entirely “wasted”.

  • avatar

    “I wonder how modern features like blind spot monitoring, radar based cruise control, and backup cameras will affect new drivers. ”

    Plenty of people text when they are driving because they think they can handle it. Other people may take their attention off the road for a second or so to look at their baby or change radio station or eat food or drink coffee…

    I’m guilty of this. Thing is, My new Jeep SRT 2015 has collision avoidance and ultrasonic front parking sensors. Taking my attention off the road, for any reason, causes the car to beep ANGRILY if I start to approach a slower/stationary object.

    UNFORTUNATELY, my Dodge Charger HELLCAT 2016 (as seen on my Youtube – which I traded my 300 towards) lacks FRONT COLLISION AVOIDANCE and lacks Adaptive Cruise Control (features it actually really needs).

    I would never rely too heavily on it, but it’s saved me from fender benders and parking dings.

    Rear parking sensors help and auto parking make very good options, but as we rely on tech, we lose our instincts.

    Ultrasonic parking and other safety tech SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED IN DRIVER’S ED.

    Students must be FORCED to learn the basics – and then allowed to supplement their basics with tech later on in life.

    On a side note: COMMUNIST CORE is making our students so STUPID they’d have to take off their shoes just to count to 10. Forcing young children to attempt critical thinking is stupid. Critical thinking is a sign of maturity – handling of facts, opinions and other information.

    I know 5+ 5 = 10.

    I don’t need to have to be able to explain why…

    …in 1st grade…

    Teach these kids to memorize steps and info FIRST.

    Let them mature into “the tech” like Computers and for the love of God…

    STOP BUYING THESE ILLITERATE, ADHD, KIDS $500 SMARTPHONES.

    Get them $12 Walmart Trac Phones

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    I’m in a similar situation, my eldest daughter is about to turn 16, and we’re starting to look for a car for her. I’ve given her (and her sister, who will be driving the same car once she gets her license) the following parameters:

    You have $15,000 to spend
    Must be 2012 or newer
    Must be less than 60,000 miles
    Must have a backup camera

    When I started driving, the hardest part was trying to figure out how close the back of the car was to other cars. I have a backup camera in my car and I won’t do without one ever again. I’m maybe more gunshy than I should be after a recent incident where a teen driver clobbered me while backing out of a parking space.

    I’m also sending her up to the Skip Barber school for a teen driving course.

    • 0 avatar
      energetik9

      “I’m also sending her up to the Skip Barber school for a teen driving course.”

      I think these are invaluable. I’ve been at the BMW school in SC for another course and they had the BMW version of the teen school going on at the same time. I’m convinced that a large percentage of driver’s have little awareness (or interest) on what their car can or will do in an emergency situation and how to respond.

      I’ve also taken the BMW car control school and it was fantastic in discussing traction, ABS, center of gravity on a car, oversteer and understeer. Much of that while you are driving the car.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Just make sure you teach her how to properly use the backup camera. It’s for checking the surroundings before proceeding and for determining close distances while parking only. It’s no substitute for peripheral vision once you’re actually moving backwards.

      A backup camera wasn’t going to do anything for the teen driver who obviously had no interest in seeing where they were going.

  • avatar
    piffpaff

    ABS, traction control, all the passive safety equipment (air-bags, etc.) – YES
    Back-up cameras, self-parking features – NO

  • avatar
    energetik9

    “My sister and I were given cars that lacked ABS, side or curtain airbags, ESP, and traction control. Not having features, like AB, taught my sister to be more attentive in slippery conditions.”

    I’m not sure I see how not having AB causes anyone to be more or less attentive in the learning process. The basic function is still the same and requires human initiation.

    I do however worry about these newer layer of safety tech. I feel that they will further remove a human from a required level of alertness and situational awareness, although I know we can argue that the cell phone and infotainment systems have already ruined that.

  • avatar
    tedward

    Abs ecs and traction control are great things for casual driving. I think they are good things especially for a beginner driver.

    I would avoid the new assisted driving features like the plague however. Adaptive cruise, while cool to play with, is only really there to teach you dangerous habits if you are a learner. Proximity sensors are in the hot zone ringing the cars likely impact points, good luck with that. Autonomous braking is an excellent thing but I don’t think you can get it without the others. Self parking is a hell no for a beginner driver for obvious reasons.

    The rear camera is the tricky one. You would want thm to have it in parking lots but they need to practice space awareness and pre drive surveillance at some point or it will never take.

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      I’m not sure what bad habits one learns using adaptive cruise control. If anything a new driver will be shown proper stopping distance between the vehicle in front of you.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        I am reading a lot of calls to train new drivers without the benefit of modern technology. Why? If the teenager is never going to drive a car without these technologies, then why train them without them? Nostalgia?

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        I was thinking along the lines of acc encouraging distracted high speed traffic driving. An experienced driver knows full well that following at 65 or 70 is, despite the boredom, a high risk environment. I would point out that I would rather a kid learn with the autonomous braking part of it without the acc there to encourage inattention. I honestly don’t think kids should start out using regular cruise control either.

        The systems out there don’t force common sense. I’ve been in cars where the systems were set to do dumb things, such as 80 against the wall on a windy Parkway in traffic (cruise on). The driver then let go of the wheel. It worked, but that was simply stupid, and annoying to be subjected to

  • avatar
    JimZ

    ” Are modern cars too safe for beginner drivers?”

    Did he *seriously* just ask this question?

    No, they’re *NOT* too safe for beginner drivers. You know why? Because we absolutely FAIL to teach new drivers what to do if they encounter the limits of the car’s handling. they have no idea what to do when e.g. the car breaks traction in a turn, no idea of threshold breaking.

    I cannot comprehend the mental gymnastics of someone who thinks this is a good idea. You want to drive an old rattletrap? Go right ahead. but think twice about what you’re doing before you deliberately endanger your kid with one.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      I think it is the same thing as the “you are safer if you drive a manual transmission” fallacy. I’ve personally never had an at fault accident in an automatic transmission car… but I’ve put several manual transmission cars off the road or into something else. Youth and immaturity trump all.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Don’t blame the car. It wasn’t behaving like an idiot. How could driving an automatic have made you any safer?

        Just another example of why European drivers are more skilled and western European roads are generally safer, even with higher speed limits. In Europe you generally learn and take your driving test in a standard.

        • 0 avatar
          Quentin

          I wasn’t blaming the car. I’m saying the transmission doesn’t matter. The driver matters hence the last line I said about youth and immaturity trumps all.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          that’s utter nonsense. #1 drivers aren’t uniformly “better” across the pond; just look at any dashcam videos from anywhere in Eastern Europe. #2, many European states have much more stringent and expensive driver’s training and licensing requirements than most US states. The failure rate for first time drivers is around 30%.

          manual transmissions are more widespread in Europe because they’ve practically always had smaller cars with tiny engines. The base engine for the Ford Fiesta in Europe is a ~60 hp 1.2 liter engine. An automatic with that would be miserably slow. We would never put up with that here.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @jimz: Again please read. “Western European” roads are safer. Not Eastern.

            And you yourself, made the argument that their drivers are better because their licensing tests are more stringent.

            As for base engines, since they have so many diesels, their torque is comparable to the many small 4 cylinders sold in North America. And their highway speed limits are often higher than those in N.A.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    So many issues, so little space. You can skip to the bottom and agree or disagree that learning how to drive a manual is the ultimate safe driving training.

    Can ABS, ESC etc fail? Yes. Had it happen twice in the past couple of years on first a 2011 and then a 2005 vehicle. Each with less than 120,000kms. At least one meticulously maintained and neither driven hard. One domestic and one Asian. Both due to ECM issues. So yes it can happen.

    Do drivers adjust their habits according to the ‘safety features’ on their vehicles? Of course. Just check out all the 4wd/awd vehicles stuck in ditches during snow storms. Their safety feature lets them drive faster and get into greater trouble.

    Should new drivers learn on cars without these features. Undoubtedly. Driving school cars should be ‘old school’. We learned by taking out cars like a ’62 Beetle, ’67 Type III squareback, Gremlin, 65 Chev 4-door (Biscayne?), 69 Pontiac (Laurentian) and a Beaumont Acadian. None with any safety features except may be some headrests, none of use wearing seatbelts and running on old bias ply tires. We would take them out to shopping mall lots in the winter and practice power slides, fishtailing, donuts, emergency stops, etc. It taught us emergency control procedures in a relatively safe environment. Allowed most of us to safely drive these vehicles with zero safety features and no winter tires in all kinds of weather and environments. Before seat belt laws, stuffing as many as 11 into one of these cars.

    Even with all that, I will not purchase a vehicle or allow my children to drive one that does not have what I perceive to be the required safety features. ABS, ESC, traction control, air curtains, active head restraints, Bluetooth, winter tires. All in my estimation mandatory.

    Back-up cameras and automatic parking? In my mind, just an excuse for not learning the dynamics/physics/geometry of driving. If you can’t judge the size of your vehicle, then you should not be driving.

    Blind spot detection, adaptive cruise control and automatic braking? Yes, if I can afford them in future vehicles.

    Finally, the ultimate safety feature and training? Teach young drivers how to drive a 3 pedal vehicle. It trains them to think ahead, to plan their moves, to use engine braking. It forces them to use both hands when driving. They will gain some understanding of how their car functions. And they will never fall victim to ‘unintended acceleration’.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “Should new drivers learn on cars without these features. Undoubtedly. Driving school cars should be ‘old school’. We learned by taking out cars like a ’62 Beetle, ’67 Type III squareback, Gremlin, 65 Chev 4-door (Biscayne?), 69 Pontiac (Laurentian) and a Beaumont Acadian.”

      Yes, and back then twice as many people died on the roads in those cars as today, even though there were only 1/4 the cars on the road.

      I start to get tired of listening to old people claim how everything back when they were kids was “perfect.”

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @jimz: Please take the time to read and understand the meaning of my previous comment. The point of mentioning those cars was because they were crapcans. But we had to learn how to drive within their limits and how to react to panic situations.

        As an example, if the victims of unintended acceleration had learned how to drive on such cars, they would have been able to react better.

        Just like those who follow their sat nav directions into lakes or wilderness areas.

        Technology can and does fail. And driving in some situations does actually require skill.

        Those crapcans were driven at higher speeds. For example the highway speed on 4 series highways in Ontario was 70mph or 13km per hour faster than now. And of course we all drove at 14 mph over the limit because you would not get any points deducted for being caught speeding at less than 15mph above the limit. So we were driving about 35 mph faster in those crapcans than in much better modern vehicles. We did that in cars with crap tires, crap brakes, many with no seatbelts (or seatbelt laws). Drunk driving laws were lax then and driving after consuming alcohol was an accepted societal norm.

        Due to many of these factors, collisions were far more dangerous. In the GTA there are far more collisions with fewer serious injuries due to the built-in safety devices in vehicles. Not due to the active safety prevention devices or driver ability.

        Still the best way to survive an accident is to avoid it. And that takes some driving skill.

        “When I was ten, I thought my parents knew everything. When I became twenty, I was convinced they knew nothing. Then, at thirty, I realized I was right when I was ten.” Mark Twain

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      The backup camera, because of its location on the back of the car, gives you an additional viewpoint. There are many times when I’m backing out of a space in a shopping center, and the view from the driver’s seat is obscured by a van or CUV. With the backup camera, I have a view as soon as my trunklid has cleared the back of the vehicle parked next to me. Without the camera, I wouldn’t be able to see until the driver’s seat had cleared the other car’s tailgate, probably another 12 feet. It also lets you see what is directly behind and close to you, which is something that is never possible without the camera. Shortly after I got my camera equipped car, I was ready to back out, and what should appear in the camera but our dog. If I hadn’t had the camera I would have almost certainly backed over her.

      It’s another tool in the toolbox and I find it invaluable.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        This is one of those things (the backup camera) that’s wonderful to have. And when all cars have it, it won’t be an issue.

        But for now, when you switch back to a car which doesn’t have one, you have to relearn the skill of “feeling” the size of the car, and knowing when to quit reversing, before you hit something.

        After two years of backup camera only driving, this was something I had to relearn when I bought a quite long old Cadillac with a small and high rear window. The first couple times I thought “Wow, I used to know how to do this so easily.”

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          +1 Corey.

          The same thing happens when I switch from the newer camera-equipped Charger to the older Buick or Cadillac. The difference between RWD and FWD is fairly noticeable as well.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Oh yes, took me a while after having a RWD GS and switching to an AWD car, not to slow down quite a bit in tight corners in the rain.

            The back kicked out on me on a curved highway entrance ramp doing about 30 once. (And no I wasn’t on old tires.)

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Why do they need to learn how to drive a manual? Why not just teach them what those different detents on their automatic shifter do? Teach them that neutral decouples the engine from the transmission and thus the wheels. Teach them that park is just neutral with a paw locking the transmission in place. Teach them what the parking brake does. Driver’s education could easily show these by having the driver rev and pushing the shifter into N to show what it does.

      Or teach them to drive a stick and let them pretend to be a [email protected] driver and be a risk taking idiot because they are sooooo skilled at driving… because that is pretty much what I did. As I said above, I’ve only ever wrecked my manual transmission cars and that is because I was driving like an idiot or being inattentive.

      Two out of my 3 current cars a manual transmissions, BTW, and I always buy MT when given the option. It doesn’t make me a safer driver, though.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @quentin, Because, the way that humans learn, they require multiple applications before it actually ‘takes’. So your proposed solution although on the surface appears logical, would not actually work.

        Also if generally if we do not need to do it, we won’t. Particularly those young drivers who are ‘not really into cars’.

        And you would probably have been driving like an idiot (your words) if you were driving an automatic. The 3rd pedal did not make you any less intelligent.

        • 0 avatar
          Quentin

          I could drive a manual transmission at 15 but really had no idea how it actually worked at the time. Imagine you are a 16 year old driver, you’ve learned how to drive a manual transmission (which is basically just timing your two feet together and upshifting when the engine gets loud and downshifting when the engine starts to lug). Now you are in your own car, which is an automatic. Are you going to know that you need to push the shifter to N is equivalent to pressing the clutch pedal? Unless you truly know how the drivetrain works, you’ve received training on a machine that you won’t use in the field. Considering that you can barely buy a manual transmission in a non-sporty car these days, how does that skill translate?

          Like I said, there is nothing that prevents you from going through unintended acceleration or brake loss scenarios in an automatic. You can still engine brake an automatic.

          The 3rd pedal did make me overconfident and certainly did contribute to my idiot driving as a teen. Most of my classmates couldn’t drive a stick so I thought I was more skilled than I actually was because I had mastered what is actually a pretty easy thing to do. Couple that with having AWD car, I thought I could do way more than I could.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @quentin: ?????????????????????????

            If you understand RPM, engine lug, etc then you should have some understanding of the drivetrain and what neutral means. Come on, not knowing what neutral is when driving a manual?

            The AWD is probably the culprit. It often is. You just haven’t recognized it.

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            Should know doesn’t mean that people do know. Knowing how to do something is different that knowing why you do something. It is easy to learn the process of driving a manual but that doesn’t teach you what is going on under the hood or in the transmission tunnel. I’m sure a lot of people don’t understand WHY they have to press the clutch when they shift. They just know that they have to and different pressure on the clutch versus the gas makes it smooth or jerky.

            You aren’t recognizing that most people just want to get from A to B and don’t really care to learn the actual function of the machine. They’ll learn the bare minimum to make the car go smoothly, but that doesn’t mean they understand what they are doing. I see it all the time with machine operators. They can follow the operation instructions and make the machine run, but when something unexpected happens, they don’t know what the machine is actually doing and how to recover it.

            And driving a stick definitely contributed to my bad driving habits as a teenager. My friends and I all drove manual transmissions because we were into cars while most everyone else were in automatics (this was the late 90s). Thus we, ignorantly, felt superior because of it. It was nonsense. A little humility about my “skills” would have saved me some cash and made me a safer driver.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @quentin, by your logic taking swimming lessons would make swimming more dangerous for you as you would take more chances than a non-swimmer.

            However you would know how to swim and a non-swimmer would not.

            So in the water, your chance of survival would be greater than a non-swimmers.

            The fact that you did not have the maturity to act wisely, was not the result of your skills. It was a direct result of your emotional state.

            The logical conclusion to your argument would be to not allow new drivers to take drivers education classes because then they would overestimate their skill level.

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            If we are talking swimming, you are saying that everyone has to know how to do the butterfly stroke when no one actually needs that skill when casually swimming. I’m saying they need to know to swim in the right conditions, to dress correctly, how to do first aid, etc. Knowing the butterfly stroke doesn’t keep you from drowning if you decide to go swimming in a terrible storm.

            Of course everyone should have driver’s ed. I’m saying that using the precious little time we have in driver’s ed on learning how to feather a clutch or rev match downshift is a waste of time. They should be learning the law of the road, panic maneuvers, how to drive defensively, how to set up their mirrors correctly, etc. Wasting 2 or 3 weeks getting everyone up to snuff on a stick shift just distracts them from what they should be learning.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Kids don’t need to learn how to drive stickshift to be good, safe drivers. Being a good, safe driver is very, very, very easy, and arcane skills like threshold braking and “double clutching like you should” are irrelevant in an age where the average used car has ABS, and good tires that grip and don’t blow out randomly are affordable and plentiful.

      I would argue that most American drivers who choose to drive stick are probably WORSE drivers, not because they have less skill, but because they choose to deploy it recklessly. A grandma driving her CR-V is a lot less likely to cause or get into an accident than some punk teenager in his stanzzzd Scion TC… insurance rates prove it.

      One can learn to be a defensive driver without learning stickshift. And that is coming from someone on his 6th stickshift car (and car in general) and 1st motorcycle.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Like the butterfly stroke analogy.

        However.
        Driving an automatic is not a particularly hard skill to learn nor does it take much time. Physically you can use one hand and one foot. And most do. So their body is not fully engaged.

        Driving a manual takes longer too learn, thus more instruction time. And it generally requires 2 hands and 2 feet. And they are moved more often, shifting, using the clutch etc. Therefore they are engaged physically. Engaging the body, also therefore requires more concentration and involvement. Thus a more ‘aware’ driver.

        Driving an automatic requires little to no awareness of how the vehicle operates. When you need to stop, you step on the brake. When you go you step on the gas.

        Driving a manual requires the driver to pay more attention.
        As you gain speed if you don’t upshift, you will burn out your engine. So drivers pay more attention to the speedo and tack. Eventually they tune into their engine. Most will eventually know the speed that they are travelling by the sound of the engine and the gear that they are in. Thus more awareness.

        If you go up a hill or down a hill or take a ramp in the wrong gear, you will notice. Someone will point out the correct method or you will experiment and find it. Thus you begin to learn about engine braking and the physics of driving. Increased knowledge.

        If you slam on the brake and don’t use the clutch your car will stall. Thus you start thinking farther ahead. You will again learn about engine braking. Even more awareness.

        Stopped at intersections you will learn what neutral is for and means. Increased knowledge and understanding.

        Since you have to shift, when you text, drink, eat or apply make-up you will be interrupted by the need to shift. So these interruptions become more frustrating meaning that you will restrict them, that is just human nature. Less distractions, mean safer driving.

        So a more aware, engaged, knowledgeable, less distracted driver. Does that not equal one of either more skilled, safer or better?

        Now it is up to the individual whether or not they wish to race around like Jack on uppers or drive leisurely like James May. But that is not dependent on the number of pedals but on the emotional attitude and state of the driver. And giving a driver more knowledge and skills cannot be a bad thing.

        And for those who think that it is a waste to learn it. Then hopefully they will never have to drive in most of the rest of the world. Or have their kids get summer jobs at a car dealership, car auction, parking provider, farm, etc.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I know people will roll their eyes at this, but I think racing simulators are great teachers of the basics of car control. Managing the traction circle, catching a spin, avoiding target fixation, managing the powerband, understanding the concept of space and how a car moves through it and occupies it…. these are all things I definitely utilize every time I fire up the old Xbox + Fanatec setup and give me a lot of confidence and good reflexes on the road.

    When I have kids I am going to train them on a simulator well before they reach driving age.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      I completely agree with this. As far as I’m concerned drivers should have to show simulated driving miles before they get a learners permit. Not some bs custom software rig, gt or forza with a feedback wheel setup. High speed simulations of traction limits, just like the licensing in gt.

      I haven’t touched mine in years but the gt franchise absolutely helped me to understand vehicle physics, instilled great habits and gave me an early window into tire and suspension setup differences.

  • avatar
    FOG

    I think we have to accept technology and coach new drivers about the deficiencies they present in different situations. My daughter has her learner permit. Her Driver’s ed cars were old with sponges for gas and brake pedals. As a result she is either gunning the gas or stomping on the brakes in either of our 2014 vehicles. I coached her to “press the gas only enough to do 2 mph” or “let the car slow 48 to 45 and then keep it there”. I know this sounds like over coaching, but it worked. She now can creep up a icy hill and safely go down that same hill on the way home.

    We can only prepare our kids for the new world they face, we can’t make them learn the way we did. I only wish we could take them to a parking lot to experience the thrill of doing 360’s by popping the clutch on a 72 Cuda with the gas to the floor and the steering wheel jacked all the way left or right.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Might be a good business venture: The Idiot Lot. Pay $10 to do whatever you want in a parking lot for 5 minutes. I’d rather get my frustration out there than on the public roads.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    “Personally, I like to think I am a better driver today because of the lack of safety features I had in my first couple of cars”

    No, I think you are a better driver today because you take driving seriously and pay attention to what you are doing out there. If a new teenage driver decides that her phone and daydreaming are more important while behind the wheel, the lack of safety features isn’t going to rearrange those priorities for her.

  • avatar
    CaptainObvious

    I’m certain I learned more about driving and car control from my first car – a 74 Gran Torino – that had zero safety equipment – than I would have from any modern car. I also think safe driving also depends on the individual – some people are just afraid to see how their car feels while driving in the snow or rain and won’t even go out. This fear leads to panic if they are caught in an unfamiliar situation. ABS and traction control can help a lot – but once you start sliding – all the electronic nannies in the world are going to get you back on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      That’s being a bit dramatic now. That car had several safety features including: S-bend front frame rails designed to absorb impact energy, 5mph bumpers, collapsible steering column, seat and shoulder belts, padded dash, headrests, horizontal I-beams inside the doors, and so on. It wasn’t quite as safe as a Volvo of that era, but FAR safer than something like a Subaru or VW Beetle of the same year.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I agree that a lot of people don’t know what to do in extreme situations, but you can still learn how to handle such situations in a modern car. Plus I will bet tires were absolute crap when you had your Torino; modern tires alone eliminate a lot of the potential emergencies people had to train for in the past.

      • 0 avatar
        CobraJet

        I bought a 74 Gran Torino brand new and it came with modern radial tires that were a great improvement in handling. However they were Firestone 500’s that would blow out at any given moment.

        But the 74 cars had quite a bit of safety equipment as Redmond points out. It even had the hated seatbelt interlock that would not allow the car to be started without buckling up.

        Compare that with a Ford (or any car) from 10 years earlier that had none of the safety equipment except for front lab belts and a somewhat padded dash.

  • avatar
    redliner

    When I was in school using a calculator in math class was called “cheating”. Now, a graphing calculator is required for many math classes.

    Learning skills like threshold braking and skid control are good, but these skills will matter little as we progress ever closer to autonomous cars. they will become as irrelevant as hand solving math problems.

    Want to teach your kid the basics of car control? Take her/him to race adult go carts.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    When buying a car for a new driver, you want as much passive safety equipment you can afford. I don’t advocate new cars for kids because as new drivers, some kind of fender bender is likely. Not to mention that spoils the crap out of them. What is more important is making sure your kids understand that certain things that are bantered about as “safety features” may well cause a change in behavior that will be a real detriment to their safety. Somebody mentioned AWD and snow storms and drivers ending up in ditches. Classic case of compensating behavior. Another is weight, size, and ride height. These are often spoken about a making a vehicle safer, and if you look at a classic example like a school bus, they do improve safety. But put a kid into a heavy, poor handling vehicle and let the kid think that makes him/her invincible you have a recipe for disaster. And nobody should buy that good grade/good driver BS. Most of the kids I grew up with that had excellent grades took out their aggression behind the wheel.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    “My sister and I were given cars that lacked ABS, side or curtain airbags, ESP, and traction control. Not having features, like AB, taught my sister to be more attentive in slippery conditions.”

    Sometimes not having driver aids just teaches you to be dead, and that’s a one time lesson.

    The sad truth is that most people don’t learn how to drive any better than not to hit large fixed objects, and need all the assistance they can get. For the rest of us, ABS and stability control systems selectively brake individual wheels, something that even the most skilled driver can’t do.

    For any of you with teenage drivers, I cannot recommend too strongly that you send them to a Street Survival school, sponsored by Tire Rack and the BMW CCA Foundation. Best $75 you’ll ever spend, takes a few hours out of their Saturday. See http://streetsurvival.org.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    So topical!

    I’m driving the manual PT Cruiser LX up to Birmingham to gift my Nephew as his first car tonight. It hasn’t got ABS, Traction Control or any nannies, but it is safe, reliable and has plenty of airbags in case of an accident. It even comes pre-dented thanks to my first South Florida run-in with an uninsured/pretend insured driver!

    It should do him fine, and I do look forward to relaying him everything I know about driving and cars. Being a little afraid of what might happen to you in a car accident serves one really well as a beginning driver.

    Can we put out an ‘iNeon’s nephew is learning manual and needs your advice’ column for the weekend edition? :)

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      ABS was still an option on PT Cruiser?

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Are you buying life insurance for him?

        http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/chrysler/pt-cruiser-4-door-wagon

        • 0 avatar
          iNeon

          It has 4 and 5-star safety ratings and is all that is available for him. But by all means, Vogo– I do apologize to you for not being able to do better.

          Let’s talk about safety shaming.

          The kid hasn’t even taken ownership of the car and you’re already throwing shade? Stuff it.

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        Yes! ABS/TCS were both optional in 2008 on the LX model. A/C, Power Package, Stereo CD and keyless were standard, though.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I’m shocked about ABS being optional in 2008, TC not so much.

          • 0 avatar
            iNeon

            Horror of horrors: it only has 4 speakers, has manual side mirrors, only 5 forward gears– and has drum rear brakes.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I realize you were being factitious but those other “horrors” sound pretty good to me.

          • 0 avatar
            iNeon

            He’s a band geek (he plays the tuba, no joke) and likes D & D, Lego and Pokemon video games are oldschool classics to him. Anti-cool is his style, and he’s very technical.

            The manual everything, totally mechanical nature of the car may be something he appreciates!

            For the super safety nannies: we’re doing the initial learning in a 1998 neon lol

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Chrysler doesn’t like to get with it on their lower end models. They were still equipping the Neon with a 3-speed auto from the 1978 Omni in 2001.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Your nephew is fortunate, and that is kind of you iNeon. With the manual and the retro styling, that is a funky little wagon and seriously not bad for a first car. The PT Cruiser always had its critics and certainly some downsides, but I always liked the concept.

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        I’m already having sedan remorse. Once you go wagon, you can’t go back. Why, oh why, can’t Chrysler do a manual transmission Cherokee?!?

        • 0 avatar
          an innocent man

          “… and has drum rear brakes.”

          So…it’s a new Toyota?

          • 0 avatar
            redmondjp

            There is absolutely nothing wrong with rear drums. Due to forward weight transfer, you don’t need that much stopping power on the rear axle in most cases, and ABS will keep the rears from locking in any case.

  • avatar
    DougD

    Us middle aged guys all made it through relatively unsafe cars, but most of us probably know somebody that didn’t.

    My boy is 15 and once he’s driving I’d much rather berate him for crashing the ABS and airbag equipped car than say “I told you so” to his box.

    That being said he’ll learn to drive stick in our 63 Beetle, but drive it every day, no way…

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I remember being a kid. I didn’t have reasonable judgment with my non-ABS, non-TC cars. I never had a serious accident, only because of luck. There’s no reason to think I would have been worse with an ABS/TC car, and it might have gotten me out of a jam.

    What I do think is important is to choose a *slow* car. So many current cars are so fast, and faster cars can and do get young drivers in trouble more easily. My son is too young to make it plausible that he’ll take over any of our current cars, but if he were near driving age I’d probably substitute a naturally aspirated Forester for the turbo one and not let him anywhere near the V8 Lexus unless with me.

    • 0 avatar
      multicam

      While I agree that a slow car is a good start, I think statistically a more important factor is the young driver being distracted by 3+ other young hooligans in the car with him/her. I remember in high school hearing statistics about teenager vehicle accidents which suggested that having a car loaded up with other teens greatly increases the chances of an accident. Of course now there are cell phones to deal with, which mimic the effects of being drunk and are dangerous even when alone in the car.

      Solution: a slow 2-seater, and teach the kid not to text and drive.

  • avatar
    ericb91

    I think the stuff designed to protect occupants in a collision is amazing and has proven to save lives. I don’t think the OP was questioning the crashworthiness being a hindrance.

    I’ve had the same thought as the OP- our teens are learning to drive in cars that park themselves, stop themselves and steer themselves. I think this is an important issue. I believe it was Ford who proudly touted their parking assist with a learner’s permit-equipped teenage boy talking about parallel parking. What happens when that kid is driving any other car and can’t parallel park? With all of these built-in safety nets like Adaptive Cruise, Lane Keeping Assist and Collision Mitigation Braking, kids have no incentive or reason (in their one-track minds) to pay attention behind the wheel. Why stop texting when the car will stop for me if I get too close to another car? Why look at the road ahead when the car can keep me centered in my lane?

    Then there’s the issue of Pedestrian Detection. It’s a legitimate technology that will no doubt save lives. But what does that technology say about drivers? What message does it give to teenagers who are being told to pay attention behind the wheel? “Always keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. But don’t worry; if you are ‘distracted’ momentarily, the car will intervene.”

    These new driver-assistive technologies are an absolute marvel. They will no doubt save lives on the road. However, I fear that driving students who are trained up with these technologies at their disposal will become a danger on the road if they ever operate a car that is not so equipped, or if the system is switched off.

    Sorry for the long-winded post. In a nutshell- new drivers need to be trained as if these technologies don’t exist. They are designed to supplement (NOT replace) common sense and awareness behind the wheel and they need to understand that.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      “…new drivers need to be trained as if these technologies don’t exist.”

      Exactly! And how are they going to know exactly where the *cut-off* is? Meaning the point where they got too comfortable, gone too far, too fast, and all the nannies can do for them is throw up their hands and pray for their souls?

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Did you train your kids to use a rotary phone before they got an iPhone? Are you teaching they how to start the car with a hand crank? Did you get them a TRS-80 for their first computer?

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          That’s a good one, except this is about some other mundane, everyday things that can get your kids killed for ya.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            I disagree. If my kids are always going to drive cars with this technology built in, then why bother teaching them on cars without it?

            My kids will never be taught to ‘pulse’ the brakes, or to extend their arm to stop the passenger from hitting the windshield or to replace points.

            Now, if what you are saying is that new drivers should be taught to stay aware because the technology can be unreliable, then I agree.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            1st, you don’t know WHAT the fukk your kids are going to drive, once they’re no longer your babies and totally under your wing.

            But mostly, the nannies give drivers a false sense of reality. Your kids will get zero feel for what NOT to do, and assume the nannies can’t get overwhelmed by bad judgement, AND the bad mistakes of other drives, putting them into a gnarly panic-stop skid, going over the nannie’s heads.

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            Denver – Most of these safety technologies let you know when they are being used and they come on well before you’ve exceeded what the car can handle. That little light and/or ding is your sign that you’ve pushed the limit of traction or the dynamic capability of the car.

            Of course, if you go barreling around a 35mph turn at 80mph first shot, there isn’t much the system can do, but if you hit is at 45mph and the temps are down, you’ll get the dashboard lighting up like a christmas tree telling you that you’ve run out of traction while it reels you back in.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Nice.. New generations of talentless drivers will instead learn to read the dashboard lights, rather than the road surface and weather conditions??

            Say they do happen be looking for the lights, will they immediately back off, or figure there’s a ‘margin’. But if they made totally clueless, what happens when the unexpected happens?

            It’s not like you can *blueprint* driving, like you can most other aspects of your life. Sh!t’s gonna happen regardless, so why not send them out into the world with the most tools possible??

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            No one is suggesting that, Denver,
            You are over-reacting. We’re just saying that if the kid is going to drive cars with these aids, then let them learn on cars with these aids.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Nannies supplement a driver’s skillset, and not to be totally relied upon. Again, sh!t’s gonna happen where they have to revert back to what they were taught and practiced. Or not taught. Or you can sit an pray nothing out of the ordinary ever happens to them on the road.

            But exactly what makes you think cars without nannies are going away? They’re not. So let’s hope and pray they don’t happen to drive one. Or one with a bad sensor, fuse, relay, etc. Or heaven forbid, own one without the nannies. When they do, they’ll probably be overconfident, thanks to their ignorance.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            “My kids will never be taught to ‘pulse’ the brakes, or to extend their arm to stop the passenger from hitting the windshield . . .”

            I hope not. Nobody’s that strong!

            Reminds me of a time I was driving 1980 Wagoneer through a parking lot as a high school student, looking for a spot to park. My buddy was in the passenger seat and his girlfriend in the back. I hadn’t noticed that he unlatched his seatbelt and was on his knees facing the back seat. I was doing my typical aggressive driving and braked hard to turn into an available spot. I noticed motion to my right and looked over to see him seemingly suspended in the air against the dash/windshield/roof. His 160 lb body hung there for a moment until the vehicle came to a stop, then fell straight down to the floor. I found it amusing. He was a bit shocked but uninjured.

            The tires and brakes on that Wagoneer weren’t great, so that wasn’t even any serious decelerative force.

            Still, some people truly don’t realize the forces involved. Within the last couple years, a friend actually told me that he reached over to hold his girlfriend in place at the start of a low speed gravel road rollover, and he sounded serious that that was a reasonable thing to do. Then again, I am talking about people who weren’t wearing seatbelts in the first place.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    When I was young I drove like a maniac in an unsafe car. I wouldn’t have driven even worse in a safer car. Why would I? I was invincible. I wasn’t thinking about my odds of crashing at all. So get all the safety stuff. It’s not the source of overconfidence.

    A faster car would’ve been a problem.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Yeah, kids aren’t worried about their safety. They do typically have some concerns about getting in trouble or damaging their vehicle though.

      I think a communicative, underpowered car would be ideal for most. No reason to leave off the safety stuff though. They might get smoked by a negligent driver, or might even lose control of the vehicle themselves. A novice is probably best just learning to drive to the limit of the nannies anyway.

      The true safety equipment is good. I’d stay away from any of the features that exist to enable the driver to divert their attention from the task of driving, or to avoid learning low speed maneuvering and developing spatial awareness.

      Regardless, if you can afford the extra cost of fuel, larger vehicles are the best option so that your child “wins” any collision regardless of fault.


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