FUEL FOR THOUGHT:
With technological advances in automotive features ranging from progressive to excessive, vehicular transport now seems to have a “snooze & cruise” attitude attached to it.
Automakers pack their cars with more and more semiautonomous safety technology like adaptive cruise control and automatic braking, so driving a car becomes easier and easier. We are, essentially, given less to pay attention to while we’re taught that our cars are watching out for us.
The level of technology we’re seeing is impressive. Adaptive cruise control ensures your car slows with traffic. Lane departure warning technology tells you when you’ve strayed over the line. Some cars will tell you when you’re nodding off, while others will actually stop your car if a pedestrian steps out into traffic.
These systems, in practice if not by design, allow drivers to pay less attention to the road ahead. The impact on performance and safety depends upon how big a workload drivers have. In stressful situations where drivers are easily overwhelmed, such as stop-and-go traffic or searching for an address in an unfamiliar neighborhood, electronic nannies can be a big help to a driver whose cognitive load is maxed out.
But put that same driver on an arrow-straight road in Kansas in the dead of the night and it could be a problem. The driver isn’t paying attention and may not see trouble coming until it’s too late.