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Old 28th September 2016, 21:53   #1
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Default Is automotive technology creating dumber drivers?

I read an article today about how modern advances in car technology actually creates dumber drivers because we get too reliant on our fancy systems in our cars until we realize they can't do it all. The article specifically mentions GPS and satnav systems, but I can extend that to ABS(its scary how few people actually understand how ABS works), lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control.
I've known people who think they can drive faster in snow because they have ABS not knowing that ABS in fact increases your stopping distance, and people with adaptive cruise control tend to get too complacent not knowing that the system has its limitations
Even the little things like forgetting where you've kept your 'keys' because you now have keyless entry and a push button start(happened to me:- I had 3 bags on me and didn't know which one the key was in). I'm in no way against technology in cars, and they've made driving a much more pleasant and stress free experience, but I firmly believe we shouldn't let technology get in the way of our own intuition.
Here's the article for my motivation:
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/2014...stupid-drivers

Last edited by SDP : 30th September 2016 at 00:18. Reason: Typos
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Old 28th September 2016, 23:54   #2
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Default re: Is automotive technology creating dumber drivers?

Technologies like ABS don't make me a lazy or a dumb driver, but technologies like semi autonomous driving, adaptive cruise control, etc., might make me one, I am afraid.

In fact, I think the same is true with many technologies as such. I am afraid I don't really exercise my brain that much, now that we have smartphones. i use GPS within the city too, and sometimes almost become handicapped if it doesn't work. Gone are the days when I used to sort of make do with sense of direction/asking people. I do not know if it is a good thing or a bad thing, but yes, in my opinion, as technology keeps progressing, though it makes life easier for us, I am not sure what it will ultimately result in.

Probably humans will become become dumber and dumber, till we reach the end of this cycle stop complete dependence on technology, and again the cycle starts? Or probably we might use our brains for more productive things, which is actually the intent of making technology take over some of the "repetitive" things we do in life. My thoughts .
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Old 29th September 2016, 00:03   #3
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Default re: Is automotive technology creating dumber drivers?

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Originally Posted by FanaticOnWheels View Post
Technologies like ABS don't make me a lazy or a dumb driver, but technologies like semi autonomous driving, adaptive cruise control, etc., might make me one, I am afraid.
Completely Agree.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FanaticOnWheels View Post
Probably humans will become become dumber and dumber, till we reach the end of this cycle stop complete dependence on technology, and again the cycle starts? Or probably we might use our brains for more productive things, which is actually the intent of making technology take over some of the "repetitive" things we do in life. My thoughts .
Are we talking about Drivers becoming dumb or all Humans becoming dumb. I believe the entity 'Driver' itself will become obsolete and even cars may become history (not in near future) as well instead of a repetition of this cycle. This is just my imagination anyway.
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Old 29th September 2016, 00:13   #4
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Default re: Is automotive technology creating dumber drivers?

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Originally Posted by rameshnanda View Post
Completely Agree.



Are we talking about Drivers becoming dumb or all Humans becoming dumb. I believe the entity 'Driver' itself will become obsolete and even cars may become history (not in near future) as well instead of a repetition of this cycle. This is just my imagination anyway.
True that. Self driven cars might definitely become extinct at some point in the future. Completely agree

I was, however, talking about technology taking over in a much broader sense. For instance, we know almost any piece of information we need is directly available on the internet. We get pin point answers to most of the questions we seek. Earlier, we would have to search out material and read about things to get what we wanted. Probably gaining a lot of knowledge that way?

As technology continues replacing the activities considered repetitive/replaceable, I feel this might take a different course . How things will pan out a hundred years from now, I do not know. Technology is making life easier for us, I only hope it doesn't make our brains redundant at one point .
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Old 29th September 2016, 01:39   #5
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Default re: Is automotive technology creating dumber drivers?

The question:
Quote:
"Is <new trend> making <negative attribute> <group of people>?"
is a standard refrain over the ages. We've heard it in multiple forms:
  • Are calculators making dumber students?
  • Are spelling/grammar checkers creating illiterate graduates?
  • Are smartphones making us dumber?
  • (and so on)
I'm sure that back when hand-cranked starters were replaced by electric starters, people would have asked "Are electric starters making drivers lazier?", while others would have jeered "A real man uses his hand in the morning." (Yes, there's a double entendre in there ).
Name:  handcrank.jpg
Views: 8925
Size:  19.9 KB
Pictured: A real man

The harsh reality is: there have been smart people and dumb people through the ages, we've had - and still have - careless ones and cautious ones. Variations in people's behaviour is here to stay. For every caveman who used a hand-crafted spear to bring down a woolly mammoth for food, there was probably another one who stabbed himself in the foot out of carelessness.

Technology might amplify or diminish some variations, but that is not the fault of the technology, its an attribute of the people. Technology is just a tool, and like a knife, it can be wielded for good or for bad.

A Case Study: Anti-lock Brakes (ABS)
Let's take ABS as an example, as its a good point you've mentioned in the opening post:
  • In the hands of a good/capable/normal driver, it provides additional control in certain circumstances
  • In the hands of a bad driver, it results in risk-compensatory behaviour, where the belief that they're safer makes them take greater risks that they would have otherwise not taken

Would I narrowly view the second case as a case of ABS promoting bad driving? Not really - those are the bad drivers who would have exhibited other bad driving manners in any other case, ABS was just one channel that allowed them to exhibit that behaviour.


Driver Assistance
Today's trend is various forms of driver assistance, including and upto semi-autonomous driving.
  • Driver assistance might be good for the single parent who's driving with two kids who suddenly start squabbling in the back. A moment's distraction might occur, but that's when either a lane departure warning might help, or automatic anticipatory braking. The driver in question is normally a cautious and sensible driver, but when there's a slip-up, technology might bridge that gap.
  • On the other hand, there might be a clown who decides to misuse these driving assistance features, and instead use them as a driver replacement feature by deciding to watch a movie.

If driver assistance was not present, I'm sure that such a driver would still find an irresponsible way of diverting his attention from the road.

In conclusion, I'd have to say that dumb people already exist, technology just gives people to demonstrate their brilliance or stupidity. However, designers and promoters of such technologies have to ensure that they don't oversell/hype it, and ensure that reasonable safeguards are built in (for example, a dead-man's switch).

Last edited by arunphilip : 29th September 2016 at 01:42.
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Old 29th September 2016, 03:51   #6
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Default re: Is automotive technology creating dumber drivers?

The bigger question is- Is technology making us dumber?

We humans are always looking at ways to make our lives simpler, and in doing so, we have replaced many of our actions by alternate set of actions or no action at all.

Let us consider a few automotive examples-

Introduction of Power Steering, Introduction of ABS, Introduction of Maps, Introduction of Power Windows, Introduction of Cruise Control etc.

Now, can we really say that a man driving his car with all these 'aids' is dumber than a man driving his car without all these 'aids' back in the 60's or even now. The thing is, a modern man has access to these modern features and he is entitled to use them. Technology is going to move forward and bring in more 'aids' like these. So the modern man is actually in sync with the technological advancement.

Also, we need to see the context in which the word 'dumb' is being used here. Because in that case, as the human race progresses, it will keep on becoming 'dumber'. Yes, technology has its limitations, but it will keep on improving.
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Old 29th September 2016, 09:16   #7
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Default re: Is automotive technology creating dumber drivers?

Yes and No.

Yes for those who miss out on the fun part of driving thanks to technology.. a colleague of mine couldn't park without parking sensors whereas I could park almost any car without any aids relying strictly on mirrors and instincts. I'm able to do so because I'm still driving a car without unnecessary technology, today everyone gets a car with rear parking sensors and so are used to them and that results in them never being able to hone their instincts to park without help. Same with keyless entry/ignition and future technologies like lane-keep assist and radar braking which will soon become standard in Europe and as usual in India after maybe 2 decades.

'No' for those who really don't care for driving, these are the people who are most likely to make a mistake when driving as they've never gone into detail on how to safely drive a car. I've seen rookie mistakes by people who've been driving for months - not keeping the handbrake up after parking, forgetting to lock the car, forgetting to use indicators and in this country 1 out of maybe 100 people can do a flawless reverse parallel park. In such cases the more technology the better - seatbelt reminder, parking sensors, ABS, key-in-ignition reminder etc.

Personally, I'd prefer a low-tech car.. I don't want the outside mirrors to fold themselves, I don't want parking sensors or any reminder for seat-belts. Heck the car reminds its drivers to take it for service these days, how hard would it be to remember when the last service was done and at what mileage? Its all part and parcel of ownership I'd assume. Safety-aids like ABS, airbags etc are there as also an idiot-proofing measure externally, we cant tell which zombie got out of the wrong side of the bed and is hell-bent on creating an accident that day.. so such features do not count as those creating dumb drivers, such drivers are dumb to begin with.
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Old 29th September 2016, 10:07   #8
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Default re: Is automotive technology creating dumber drivers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dark.knight View Post
Yes and No.

Yes for those who miss out on the fun part of driving thanks to technology.. a colleague of mine couldn't park without parking sensors whereas I could park almost any car without any aids relying strictly on mirrors and instincts. I'm able to do so because I'm still driving a car without unnecessary technology, today everyone gets a car with rear parking sensors and so are used to them and that results in them never being able to hone their instincts to park without help. Same with keyless entry/ignition and future technologies like lane-keep assist and radar braking which will soon become standard in Europe and as usual in India after maybe 2 decades.

'No' for those who really don't care for driving, these are the people who are most likely to make a mistake when driving as they've never gone into detail on how to safely drive a car. I've seen rookie mistakes by people who've been driving for months - not keeping the handbrake up after parking, forgetting to lock the car, forgetting to use indicators and in this country 1 out of maybe 100 people can do a flawless reverse parallel park. In such cases the more technology the better - seatbelt reminder, parking sensors, ABS, key-in-ignition reminder etc.

Personally, I'd prefer a low-tech car.. I don't want the outside mirrors to fold themselves, I don't want parking sensors or any reminder for seat-belts. Heck the car reminds its drivers to take it for service these days, how hard would it be to remember when the last service was done and at what mileage? Its all part and parcel of ownership I'd assume. Safety-aids like ABS, airbags etc are there as also an idiot-proofing measure externally, we cant tell which zombie got out of the wrong side of the bed and is hell-bent on creating an accident that day.. so such features do not count as those creating dumb drivers, such drivers are dumb to begin with.
+1 to all of that.

I have friends who are plain helpless without the rear sensors and reverse cameras. They don't hesitate going fast on a slippery road on a rainy day and slam the brakes hard wherever they like because they are sure of the ABS working its part.

I don't approve of either of them. Such people can't drive a regular featureless car as they don't know the full use of ORVM and IRVM. They don't even know the limits of those sensors (corner blindspots, sharp protrusions?) and camera (rain blurring the lens?). So, yes I agree with the title of the thread.

Differing from the topic, I would like to say that technology (both for comfort like the camera as well as safety such as ABS) should be there to enhance the driver's primary instincts, not replace them.
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Old 29th September 2016, 10:11   #9
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Default re: Is automotive technology creating dumber drivers?

Strongly disagree . Instead of making us dumb drivers, they are making us safer drivers.

There's a limit to every human's potential. Some things humans can't do. Hence, technology.

Of course, excess of everything is bad. I don't support tesla autopilot for this very reason. If you don't want to drive, get a driver. That simple.
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Old 29th September 2016, 10:14   #10
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Default re: Is automotive technology creating dumber drivers?

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Originally Posted by studentonwheels View Post
I'm in no way against technology in cars, and they've made driving a much more pleasant and stress free experience, but I firmly believe we shouldn't let technology get in the way of our own intuition.
What time do you usually go for your daily hunt or foraging? Wait, you don't hunt/forage your own food in the wilderness? Lazy.... tch tch.

I guess I don't to have elaborate the above point. Humans have continuously increased the efficiency of every activity they undertake. That is the sole purpose of technology.

There is a cure for dumb drivers, that is no drivers. Insurance companies know that the biggest cause of automobile accidents are humans, both smart and dumb ones. And they are waiting for the time when driverless cars are practical, and then they will force the governments to make self-driving cars illegal or very expensive. They will argue that a traffic system that is devoid of any human drivers is much more safer than current traffic system. And that is true. Besides, they will reduce the insurance cost for driverless cars, and increase the insurance premium for self-driven cars by many times, to reflect the risk factor. That will force more and more people migrate to driverless cars.

Eventually, selfdriven cars will have the same fate as horse riding, a mere hobby that can be indulged only in tracks or rural settings.
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Old 29th September 2016, 10:40   #11
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Default Re: Is automotive technology creating dumber drivers?

Depends on the objective. It's the human who's the most dangerous system in the whole driving ecosystem. We are unreliable, emotional, risk-taking and just plain complacent. Technology is trying to mitigate our crazy actions through avoidance, prevention or reactive measures. Almost all technologies in cars nowadays follow this pattern. They analyze how humans would adversely react to a situation, figure out what technologies are better / faster to counter-react to that same situation and then normalize the impact.

I don't think it's making us dumb. But, inherently, humans are risk-takers. We want to try out new things and are curious about pushing boundaries. Same with driving. All this technology does is make us potentially safer. But, it does suck the life out of "fun" however we define it.
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Old 29th September 2016, 10:49   #12
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Default Re: Is car technology creating dumb drivers?

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I guess I don't to have elaborate the above point. Humans have continuously increased the efficiency of every activity they undertake. That is the sole purpose of technology
No doubt humans have pushed the technology envelope to unimaginable extents (to standards of today). However, to rule out technology isn't making us dumb and is in fact helping breed a smarter generation is debatable.

Classic example, the Tesla autopilot fatal accident in Florida. Advanced technology, super infrastructure, 'blind reliance on technology' = perfect recipe for disaster from a potential dumb human being
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Old 29th September 2016, 10:51   #13
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Default Re: Is automotive technology creating dumber drivers?

I totally agree. If you have never driven without a facility - Navigation, ABS or parking sensor, then most of the drivers are left confounded when these fail. As pointed out in previous posts

. Very few drivers can park their cars in a tight spot without resorting to sensors for assistance. They have either lost or never had the faculty to estimate the parking slot length and modify their trajectory. I see my neighbour making the same mistake every day for last ten years while parking his car - either too low or too high an angle while reversing the car into slot, so instead of one smooth maneuver he has to try for a couple of times to get it right.

. ABS has also convinced drivers that the car will stop faster in any situation, with the result that where as old timers used to monitor the traffic and road condition to assess stopping distance, people are now oblivious to it assuming that ABS will stop the car instantaneously

. The less said of our reliance on modern navigation the better. There are those who have blind faith in digital maps, and they are the ones who land in trouble. Using digital maps with a bit of common sense can get rid of all those navigation horror stories.

On the whole technology does make us a bit dumb. Take my case, till twenty years ago I could remember the phone numbers of most of my friends, acquaintances and professional contacts. For emergencies, I had a tiny paper phone book in my purse for quick reference. Come cell phones with built in address book and I have now reached a stage where I find it difficult to remember even my wife's phone number
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Old 29th September 2016, 11:04   #14
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Default Re: Is automotive technology creating dumber drivers?

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ABS in fact increases your stopping distance
Isnt it the contrary? If it increased the distance why would any manufacturer promote it in the first place? We are basically saying that okay so your car stops in X meters without ABS and now with our new revolutionary ABS technology your car will stop in X+Y meters (instead of X-Y meters). Sorry but doesnt make sense to me.

I had read once (and many of you too must have I suppose) that most of the accidents are caused because of the nut behind the wheel and I completely agree to this. Technology only "AIDS/HELPS" you with something and cannot own it completely. Its upto the driver to take control when he/she feels or senses something wrong or at least know the capabilities of the car. The case where the Tesla test driver died in the autonomous driving car crash is a very good example of this.

Blaming things on something else is a classic practice by humans. Kids having specs - blame it on the mobile, people not remembering birthdays - again blame it on the calendars in mobiles and computers, people not remembering phone numbers - ofcourse it is the mobile phones to blame. I mean cummon. Its not the mobile or the computer or the technology. It's YOU/US overusing it in the first place.

Bottom line, I would say its not the technology making us dumber but we letting it take control of us and manipulate our intelligence/capabilities
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Old 29th September 2016, 11:31   #15
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Default Re: Is automotive technology creating dumber drivers?

More relevant we learnt to drive keeping in mind the total environment around us. Checking the road conditions ahead, anticipating erratic driver behavior. What technology has done is to give us a false sense of safety relying on technology, and ignoring basic safe driving norms.

What I think OP wanted to express is that all the technology has made us forget the basics; thus dumbing us; and relying totally on technology, which if it fails may be disastrous in emergencies.

Last edited by Samurai : 30th September 2016 at 10:57. Reason: removed ABS talk
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