Can Cars Ever Be Too Safe?

from the i-want-a-giant-spike-on-my-steering-wheel dept

Whenever technology begins to take over, there are those who worry about what's "lost" in relying too heavily on technology. Remember people who said that kids wouldn't understand math if they used calculators? Or those who are now afraid that kids won't be able to write because they spend so much time typing? Or those fears that we're all so used to Google being available all the time, that we're letting our memory go? Along those lines, Wired is asking if all of the next generation of safety features in cars means that we're becoming too complacent as drivers. After all, with new technologies that effectively take over for a driver if it looks like a crash is about to happen, or at the very least try to alert the driver of that possibility, perhaps people will start relying on the technology too much. When it comes to driving, we've certainly seen a few too many examples of drivers trusting their GPS devices over their own eyes. So, it's not out of the realm of possibility (especially with technology being as unreliable as it often is) that people will become so reliant on these technologies that they'll become somewhat more careless, but that hardly seems like a good reason to stop this type of technology from moving forward. After all, you could take it to the extreme, and note that if everyone drove around with giant spikes on their steering wheels instead of airbags, everyone would drive a lot more carefully -- but no one wants that to happen.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Le Blue Dude, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 2:17pm

    How about we just ban cars!

    I mean, reallly? I mean, come on here?


    O.K. you're not laughing. Shit.

    *Runs away*

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 2:33pm

    Doesn't matter. Car accidents still cost money.

     

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  3.  
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    some dude, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 2:33pm

    Modest Proposal

    If cars had knifes on the steering wheel instead of air-bags I can guarantee you that people would drive a lot more cautiously.
    Just putting that out there...

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 2:35pm

    Is that spike and steering wheel a standard economics thought experiment? I've known it for as long as I can remember but I've never heard anyone else use it until today.

     

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  5.  
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    matt, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 2:43pm

    safer is safer

    as much as I understand the philosophy, that is the same logic as the folks who said that giving HPV shots to kids would cause them to more freely have sex. In reality safer is safer, period. Even if people become more relaxed about it, that is not their own fault and certainly shouldn't be the certain of the people improving safety.

    Saving lives > stupid drivers, period.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous of Course, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 2:51pm

    It's patented

    The spike ejecting steering wheel
    is patented by the same fellow who
    invented the inflatable mace air
    bag and the chainsaw seatbelt.

    I'd feel much safer, when I see some
    jamoke yakking on their cellphone as
    they barrel up behind me at 30mph over
    the speed limit, if such innovations were
    already on the market.

    Another example of patents stiffling
    technological advancement.

    No, cars can never be too safe as
    long as there are thoughtless, careless,
    inconsiderate drivers we have to deal with.

     

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  7.  
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    Greener, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 3:08pm

    Cars Have Become Entertainment Centers

    No matter how safe you try and make cars, todays drivers are doing everything they can to distract themselves from driving their 3000+ lb machine. Cars have become entertainment centers, not vehicles to haul you and yours from here to there. Cell phones, multi-speaker stereos with sub woofers, video screens with DVD players, satellite radio, navigation systems, etc...all tend to distract todays drivers from paying attention to the road and the rest of us.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 3:46pm

    I always figured that if it were law that, if a driver sees a pedestrian on the road outside of a designated crossing area, they have to increase speed and aim for them. Anyone caught not doing it would be arrested.

    I know I'd be more careful crossing the road. And it'd also be hilarious.

     

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  9.  
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    Jesse McNelis, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 3:51pm

    Bigger Problems

    If kids can't write because they always type, then there is a problem is computers suddenly disappear.

    If kids can't do basic maths because they always use calculators, then there is a problem if calculators suddenly disappear.

    If kids can't remember facts because they always know they can just web search for it, then there is a problem if web search suddenly disappears.

    If car drivers don't drive carefully because they relie on their car safety systems, then there is a problem if these systems suddenly disappear.

    But if any of these things suddenly disappear then we have bigger problems to worry about.

     

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  10.  
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    david, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 3:55pm

    survival of fittest, anyone?

    if the people relying on smarter cars to save them die in crashes, isn't that just natural selection? i know it seems harsh, but do we really want people on the road that are so uninterested in their own safety (much less ours) that they would come to rely on the wits of their cars to save their own necks?

    really, who does that? for some reason i'm seeing mr.T in my head now saying "you speed in the rain, you bringing the pain!" i'm sorry.

     

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  11.  
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    Raptor85, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 4:05pm

    The real problem...

    I don't think that the problem is that cars are becoming too safe, I think that the problem is the DMV no longer seems to care and hands out licenses to anyone who can do a right turn.

    My first DMV test was to pull out of the DMV onto a dead street, go around the block staying to the right so I'd never have to merge, and pull straight back into the DMV. What exactly did that test?

    The post above about cars becoming entertainment centers also hits it dead on too, driving a small car I find myself using the horn and swerving to avoid people who are more often than not distracted, or just plain don't check their mirrors/sides before merging or turning. Here in Southern California the day just isn't complete unless one person nearly crashes into me.

    Another huge problem I see often is people trying to drive SUVs as if they are small cars, doing 85MPH on side streets, cutting in front of traffic even though they can't accelerate to keep up. I'd say at least 90% of the "dangerous" drivers I see on the road are in SUVs. Personally I believe SUVs and larger trucks should require a different class license and different testing much like a motorcycle does.

    The final problem I believe adds to dangerous driving is automatic transmissions, they seem to enable you to be further distracted while driving as you no longer have to operate the clutch and shift gears. Even I have to admit when I'm driving an automatic I feel far more "detached" from the road and the car, I don't know how to describe it but I'm sure anyone else here who has a standard transmission will know what I'm talking about.

     

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  12.  
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    darkbhudda, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 4:05pm

    Even without distractions people manage to drive like morons. And why shouldn't they? Deliberately run a red light and kill someone who was legally crossing and all you get is a pathetic fine of less than $200.

    Yes, technology is going to make it worse.

    But technology will be our saviour too. When I can conceal carry a freakin' disintegrator ray I don't think you'll be doing 150 degree turns through pedestrians again will you Mr Bus Driver?

     

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  13.  
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    TSO, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 4:27pm

    Already happened.

    Anybody remembers stick shift?

     

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  14.  
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    khoolhandz, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 4:29pm

    We do that already

    That's how it is in the Philippines!

     

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  15.  
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    khoolhandz, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 4:31pm

    Re:

    That's how we drive in the Philippines!


    ---by Anonymous Coward on Nov 8th, 2007 @ 3:46pm
    I always figured that if it were law that, if a driver sees a pedestrian on the road outside of a designated crossing area, they have to increase speed and aim for them. Anyone caught not doing it would be arrested.

    I know I'd be more careful crossing the road. And it'd also be hilarious.

     

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  16.  
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    DadsDrive, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 6:17pm

    Re: Modest Proposal

    Exactly! I would go a step further how about placing the driver on the front bumper, remove the brakes or at least marginalize them, take out the horn...
    I bet we see some get to be very good drivers or die trying

     

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  17.  
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    Boris Jacobsen, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 6:19pm

    Already happened

    It's already happened. Here in the UK, there was a high profile TV advert with a little kid saying 'if you hit me at 40 miles an hour, there's an 80% chance I'll die - if you hit me at 30 miles an hour, there's an 80% chance I'll live'.

    BUT that's based on the standard UK car of 10 years ago. SUV's have now taken off here thanks to immoral manufacturers and actually if you're a child hit by an SUV at 30 mph, there's now an 80% chance you'll die, because it's so big and heavy and probably has a big bull bar on the front.

    SUV's are bigger and heavier and safer for the driver. But safety for one party equals less safe for the other - the pedestrian who is not lining the car company's pockets.

    WAKE UP PEOPLE. The pedestrian is our children, our parents, ourselves, more and more as oil prices go up.

    SICK.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Boris Jacobsen, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 6:19pm

    Already happened

    It's already happened. Here in the UK, there was a high profile TV advert with a little kid saying 'if you hit me at 40 miles an hour, there's an 80% chance I'll die - if you hit me at 30 miles an hour, there's an 80% chance I'll live'.

    BUT that's based on the standard UK car of 10 years ago. SUV's have now taken off here thanks to immoral manufacturers and actually if you're a child hit by an SUV at 30 mph, there's now an 80% chance you'll die, because it's so big and heavy and probably has a big bull bar on the front.

    SUV's are bigger and heavier and safer for the driver. But safety for one party equals less safe for the other - the pedestrian who is not lining the car company's pockets.

    WAKE UP PEOPLE. The pedestrian is our children, our parents, ourselves, more and more as oil prices go up.

    SICK.

     

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  19.  
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    Anon, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 7:38pm

    Yes, cars CAN be too safe. I don't have a lot of money. I need a full size truck for work. Now, thanks to government mandated safety requirements, my full size truck must come with air bags, anti-roll over technology, ESP, and all kinds of other alphabet soup that I DO NOT WANT. But do I have a choice? No. I must pay for it regardless. So instead of my truck costing $20,000 it costs $23,000...$3,000 that I could have spent on something else that I NEED. Back the government the fuck off and let the market dictate how safe cars are.

     

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  20.  
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    Tempest, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 8:03pm

    Re: Already happened

    "SUV's are bigger and heavier and safer for the driver. But safety for one party equals less safe for the other - the pedestrian who is not lining the car company's pockets. WAKE UP PEOPLE. The pedestrian is our children, our parents, ourselves, more and more as oil prices go up. SICK."
    Simple rule of thumb here: if something bigger than you is coming your way, or if you get in it's way, it WILL hurt you. Do you walk out onto a racetrack? No. Why? Because there are very heavy, very fast objects on the path and you know if you do you'll probably be seeing the world through the back of your head shortly. How is a road any different?

     

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  21.  
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    Ben, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 8:29pm

    The problem with too many safety devices like abs, dstc, tc etc is that the driver is SOOO used to these safety devices, when they fail or drive another car that does not have these features they become a really unsafe driver and have no idea on how to control the car.

     

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  22.  
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    Le Blue Dude, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 10:21pm

    Re: Re: Already happened

    Because we need to cross the road. We wouldn't if we didn't have to

     

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  23.  
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    _Jon, Nov 9th, 2007 @ 7:08am

    I will say that when I switch vehicles, I've almost backed into a few things because the other car doesn't have a reverse-sensing system. I'd become complacent and figured; "If I don't hear 'beep beep beep', then there is nothing behind me."

    So I think it is a double-edged sword.

     

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  24.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger, Nov 9th, 2007 @ 7:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Already happened

    But there is a neat little trick we (or at least I) learned in school. Look left, then right, then left. LOOK BEFORE CROSSING and then you will know. Another neat little trick is not to walk down the middle of the road. Where are the parents when the kids need to learn this?

     

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  25.  
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    dazcon5, Nov 19th, 2007 @ 5:57am

    Re: The real problem...

    I agree totally. While stationed in the UK to get a license to drive in that country, we had to take a week long (and already have a US drivers license) class. There were 2 people in that class that were so dumb it took 3 hours for the instructor to get them to understand a simple traffic circle. We need more common sense an reactive questions in the test so that the moron patrol members don't get licensed. On a side note we also need to massively increase the availability of public transport in the USA. I have ceased to be surprised by the rampant stupidity displayed by the average US driver.

     

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