InTrans / Apr 21, 2016

Should safety be mandatory in the tech revolution?

Go! Magazine

Black and white artwork of expensive car

Looking forward to the future has never been the same. For my entire life, the future’s been racing me forward, with new technology after newer technology, and I can’t keep up.

Every new, state-of-the-art product is soon outdated by another version that’s lighter, thinner, sleeker, and sometimes safer. Whether it’s a new cell phone, a TV, or a car, it seems impossible to always have the newest model.

These updates used to be consistently annual. Now, new models seem to be released every few months, usually with new features so similar to the last models’ that we’re forced to wonder: “Why bother?”

Now, aside from phones and other tech, what really gets me is new car models, specifically when it comes to their safety features.

My first car was a 1992 Ford Thunderbird, and it had a radio and an airbag. My second car was a 2002 Pontiac Grand Am, and it had a radio, CD player, and front and side airbags. Then when I upgraded to a 2014 Ford Focus, I noticed this vehicle scrapped the CD player in favor of a Bluetooth channel, which changes music and reads texts aloud through voice activation. I can also change music and answer phone calls using buttons on the steering wheel. This way I don’t have to think about looking at my phone while driving, which makes it a safety feature in my book. My Ford Focus also has other features like this: a button on the clutch knob that indicates a special driving mode made for hilly or mountainous terrain and a smaller mirror integrated within the side mirrors that eliminates blind spots.

But, it is only a 2014 model, which means that it doesn’t have the features of other 2015 car models such as a rearview camera or a proximity beeper.

But, these features aren’t “necessary.” So then what do we define as necessary when it comes to safe driving?

Is adaptive cruise control (ACC)—which controls your speed based on the distance between your car and preceding vehicles—a necessary feature?

I often use cruise control while driving on the freeway, but never can I use it for the entire distance—there’s always another driver I’ll eventually reach, driving slower in another lane, forcing me to shut the cruise control off until one of us switches lanes.

However, adaptive cruise control would prevent this scenario altogether, adding a sense of vehicle autonomy. But think about how this tech revolution has unfolded so far. Eventually ACC will just be another outdated technology, replaced by fully-autonomous driving.

Should this technology and others, such as the rearview camera or proximity beeper, be mandatory? At the very least, should they be included on all future car models? I think so.

However unknown, I’m still excited for the future. Think about all the possibilities! But, as we stand at the dawn of a new era of fast, driverless, fully-electric vehicles entering our roadways, we also have to ask: “Are they safe?”

Continue the conversation

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By Alex Larson, Go! Intern

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