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Author Topic: Do today's new cars make people drive more stupid?  (Read 1592 times)

briantroutman

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Re: Do today's new cars make people drive more stupid?
« Reply #25 on: October 16, 2018, 01:58:50 PM »

I think that automatic headlights coupled with daytime running lights in more vehicles seem to have resulted with more people driving without their headlights on at night (or maybe just my imagination). 

Not your imagination.... I have observed the same. 

I haven't noticed that.

I definitely have noticed an increase in cars driving around with dim DRLs and no side marker or taillights, and I’m willing to go out on a limb and say the problem is much worse than it was about 20 years ago when I was old enough to pay much attention to the actions of other drivers on the road.

Automatic headlights are a bit of a positive and a negative: Positive in that they turn on the headlights (and taillights and side markers) for those who might otherwise forget to turn them on manually, but negative because people who have become accustomed to automatic headlights may not think to turn the light switch when driving a car without them. I’ve been guilty of this myself briefly in rental cars. With only two exceptions, every one of my cars has either had automatic headlights or in the case of my Subarus, the headlights turned off with the ignition, so I simply left the headlight switch on all the time.

DRLs are part of the problem as well, but I think the key culprit is the type of “always-on” glowing dashboards that has become popular in recent years. DRLs might be enough to illuminate the road ahead of you—so you might forget to hit the headlight switch—but eventually, you’ll look down at the gauges and realize that none of your dash lights are on. But many modern cars have deeply hooded gauge clusters that are brilliantly illuminated day and night—regardless of whether the headlights are turned on or not. And with enough light to see the path in front of you and a glowing set of gauges, drivers easily make the mistake of thinking that their lights are on—when in reality the back and sides of their car are a dark void to other drivers.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2018, 02:01:19 PM by briantroutman »
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kphoger

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Re: Do today's new cars make people drive more stupid?
« Reply #26 on: October 16, 2018, 02:01:03 PM »

DRLs are part of the problem ... drivers easily make the mistake of thinking that their lights are on—when in reality the back and sides of their car are a dark void to other drivers.

Now THAT is something I've definitely noticed.
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Re: Do today's new cars make people drive more stupid?
« Reply #27 on: October 16, 2018, 02:10:02 PM »

Bold emphasis added:
DRLs are part of the problem as well, but I think the key culprit is the type of “always-on” glowing dashboards that has become popular in recent years. DRLs might be enough to illuminate the road ahead of you— so you might forget to hit the headlight switch —but eventually, you'’ll look down at the gauges and realize that none of your dash lights are on. But many modern cars have deeply hooded gauge clusters that are brilliantly illuminated day and night —regardless of whether the headlights are turned on or not. And with enough light to see the path in front of you and a glowing set of gauges, drivers easily make the mistake of thinking that their lights are on— when in reality the back and sides of their car are a dark void to other drivers.
I concur.  I have definitely noticed a sizable uptick with drivers in newer vehicles driving without their headlights on at night.
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Re: Do today's new cars make people drive more stupid?
« Reply #28 on: October 16, 2018, 02:57:31 PM »

On my particular car, if you cross out of your lane (or what the computer thinks is your lane) the steering wheel shakes and a "womp womp" sound replaces whatever is on the radio. 

I think there are more expensive models that actually try to hold the car in the lane, which is a bad thing.


I turn that feature off the moment I notice a rental car has this annoying option. These systems "tug" the wheel gently if you verge slightly off / near the painted road edge, which kicks in an over-reaction on my part. The car's smart enough to detect road contrast, but not roadkill or debris I'd like to swerve around. I also try to turn off warnings for Braking Assist features, if possible; more distracting lights and tones are not what I need in a stop-short situation.

As for headlights that should be on...from experience, I don't think the number of drivers failing to turn on headlights has increased, but it sure hasn't slackened much. But automatic lights always have an off switch, so given the opportunity for someone to override a feature, folks will do it (when possible, as I described above). I still have a car with manual lighting, but the instrument cluster is very bright at night if you forget to turn in the headlights, so that it's visible in harsh daylight, yet dimming significantly when the headlights are on.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2018, 03:08:22 PM by formulanone »
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Duke87

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Re: Do today's new cars make people drive more stupid?
« Reply #29 on: October 17, 2018, 08:07:51 PM »

I was in a rented Mazda something or other last month that had that some of those "features". Part of the problem seems to be they are configured generally conservatively, i.e. they beep too easily. The blindspot monitor, for example, seems to want you to have multiple car lengths between you and the car behind you when you change lanes... even in stop and go traffic. Fortunately you can turn off the beeping from this feature and let it only activate the little light on the mirror when it thinks your blindspot is occupied, which is easy to ignore.

The lane departure assist, as already noted, had the problem of alerting when you were crossing a lane line deliberately to swerve around something. And, in a big "fuck you, nanny car knows best" to the driver, Mazda will allow you to switch this feature between beeping and vibrating the steering wheel when it triggers... but they do not give you an option turn it off, at least not one that is intuitively accessible through the settings menu.


Still, there are newer features which are useful rather than annoying. I like my automatic headlights - this is legitimately a convenience, it does not make startling beeps at me, it does not attempt to alter the way in which I am making the vehicle move, and - most importantly - it can be manually overridden with the turn of a dial.

The most horrible automatic "features" are the ones that do not permit manual override, or deliberately make it annoying to manually override.
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Re: Do today's new cars make people drive more stupid?
« Reply #30 on: October 17, 2018, 09:35:40 PM »

I feel like my TL (a 2012 model, though the generation came out in 2008), has the right safety balance. Lots of airbags, blind spot monitoring (new for 2012), but no lane departure warning or anything else. The blind spot monitoring system doesn’t beep, only flashes, when you put the turn signal on with a car in its monitored area. It, as well as the traction control, are easily disabled with the push of a button.
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Re: Do today's new cars make people drive more stupid?
« Reply #31 on: October 18, 2018, 09:31:12 AM »

My observation is that what results in most stupid driving is people using their phones.  I suspect they'd still be doing so in a car with no safety systems.

That's the biggest change in driver stupidity over the past 5 years or so, imo.  Distraction by phones is the cause for so many incidents now.

I feel some people do view these features as a replacement for human skills, rather than just as a supplement.

You articulated that very well.  This is exactly what the problem is.  They put warnings on all of the cars with backup cameras, for example, that say some variation of "this camera is not to replace the act of checking behind you with your own two eyes."  I don't think it would be fair to blame the act of backing into someone else's car on a faulty backup camera, do you?  Same with the sensors that detect a car next to you when making a lane change.  If it didn't beep, and you hit someone, you should still be considered to be at fault.

An electric shock after every mistake.

Ooh, kinky.

Also,

"More stupid"? No.

"More stupidly"? Maybe.

:bigass:

THANK.  YOU.  You might want to use the correct grammatical structure when calling anyone else stupid?  Just a suggestion lol
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J N Winkler

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Re: Do today's new cars make people drive more stupid?
« Reply #32 on: October 18, 2018, 09:10:48 PM »

As for headlights that should be on...from experience, I don't think the number of drivers failing to turn on headlights has increased, but it sure hasn't slackened much.

My experience, which is in line with what others have been reporting, is that DRL-equipped cars cruising at night with just the DRLs is fairly common.

But automatic lights always have an off switch, so given the opportunity for someone to override a feature, folks will do it (when possible, as I described above). I still have a car with manual lighting, but the instrument cluster is very bright at night if you forget to turn in the headlights, so that it's visible in harsh daylight, yet dimming significantly when the headlights are on.

Unless a driver happens to be driving at dusk when he or she sees the instrument panel illumination change from day bright to night dim, he or she may not even be aware there are separate day/night modes.  DRLs themselves can obscure the lack of automatic headlamp activation at night, so that the driver doesn't realize he or she actually has to turn on the headlamps manually.  And while many cars now have telltales that report whether the headlamps are on, the symbology is inconsistent, unless it has been standardized over the past decade or so.  I know of no driver that has been socialized to look for an illuminated headlamp telltale to verify that low beams, and not just DRLs, are on.

There are multiple situations that can result in a driver trying to run at night on DRLs alone--not familiar with the car (very common with rentals and borrowed cars), turned headlamps to manual and then forgot to return them to auto (as you suggest), etc.

My 2005 Camry is the only car I drive regularly that has auto headlamps and I invariably keep them in auto mode since I try to comply with any daytime headlamp burn requirements (full-time in Canada, various safety corridors scattered throughout the US, mild attenuation of visibility, etc.) through DRLs alone.  However, if it is at night but I do not need courtesy illumination, and I expect to have a door or the trunk open for an extended time while I load or unload the car, I flip the lights from auto to manual and back again to turn off the headlamps and taillights.  This is because in auto mode both come on as part of the courtesy illumination and stay on while the car is open; the timer for lamp shutoff does not begin to run until the car is fully closed.
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Roadrunner75

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Re: Do today's new cars make people drive more stupid?
« Reply #33 on: October 20, 2018, 04:31:09 PM »

But automatic lights always have an off switch, so given the opportunity for someone to override a feature, folks will do it (when possible, as I described above). I still have a car with manual lighting, but the instrument cluster is very bright at night if you forget to turn in the headlights, so that it's visible in harsh daylight, yet dimming significantly when the headlights are on.
A 1999 Corolla I had did not have an off switch for the automatic headlights.  It was either "On" or auto mode (mislabeled as "Off" if I recall).  Every once in awhile I would get frustrated with it for some reason (probably when someone at a gate, etc. told me to turn them off) and I would plan to find a way to override them, and then I would just forget about it.  My brother who was in the military had a truck with a similar setup around the same time, and he often had to explain to guards at the base gate that he couldn't just switch to parking lights.

My 2005 Camry added a real working "Off" feature (On / Auto / DRL Off), and being so frustrated with my experience with the Corolla, I "relearned" turning on my lights manually at night and kept it in "Off" during the day (which also turned my DRLs off). 

When I got to my 2010 RAV4, I expected Toyota to progress to a full four function On/Auto/Off/DRL Off, but the model I got did not have automatic headlights at all, so it was back to the good ol' days of just On/Off (with DRLs always on).  Fine with me.

I agree with some of the comments above that the dashboard lighting and DRLs contribute to more people forgetting (or not realizing) to turn their headlights on at night.  I think I've definitely seen an increase in people driving with only DRLs at night - maybe not as much running fully dark.
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Re: Do today's new cars make people drive more stupid?
« Reply #34 on: October 20, 2018, 10:37:00 PM »



So my car now flips the lights on when the wipers are in INT, or ON (when lights set to AUTO)
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Re: Do today's new cars make people drive more stupid?
« Reply #35 on: October 22, 2018, 08:57:22 PM »

Well, all I know is that since ashtrays have been removed from cars, I'm seeing more burning cancer sticks thrown out the window

They put some chemical in cigarettes to make them fire-safe, IIRC. Whatever it is, it's probably even worse for the lungs than tar.

(This summer, someone here mentioned that cigarettes in the early days had much less nicotine than they do now. I did not know that. Before reading that, I thought that it was cigar and pipe tobacco that was high tar/low nicotine.)
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Re: Do today's new cars make people drive more stupid?
« Reply #36 on: October 22, 2018, 09:00:14 PM »

Also, I wouldn't try to toss a Marlboro out a window in a drought-stricken area.
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Re: Do today's new cars make people drive more stupid?
« Reply #37 on: October 24, 2018, 12:22:59 PM »

My Saab 9-3 is programmed to have "always on" lights.  There's no way to disable the feature without plugging in a TECH-II and reprogramming the ECU.  No switch, no separate fuse.  And I don't have $900 for a TECH-II.  I prefer switchable roadway lights because I like the look during the day of the car being un-lit.  But I am in the process of converting over to all-LED exterior lights.
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Re: Do today's new cars make people drive more stupid?
« Reply #38 on: October 24, 2018, 02:09:15 PM »

My observation is that what results in most stupid driving is people using their phones.  I suspect they'd still be doing so in a car with no safety systems.

That's the biggest change in driver stupidity over the past 5 years or so, imo.  Distraction by phones is the cause for so many incidents now.
If you don't mind me asking, do you have proof of that?  I am not denying it in any way, but our crash data is definitely underreporting it since distraction in crashes relies on either the driver's honesty (and taking a $206 ticket) or having a witness there.
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J N Winkler

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Re: Do today's new cars make people drive more stupid?
« Reply #39 on: October 25, 2018, 01:35:30 PM »

So my car now flips the lights on when the wipers are in INT, or ON (when lights set to AUTO)

I make the decision to turn on low beams based on visibility alone, independently of the wipers, largely because I rarely, if ever, run the wipers on a continuous setting at highway speeds.  I generally find Rain-X to be more effective at clearing water from the windshield at speed than the wipers.  A few weeks ago I had to drive a car in rain with the wipers alone, because the windshield had just been replaced and I had not yet gotten around to applying Rain-X, and I could barely see a thing even with the wipers at top speed.

As I have gotten older, I have become more willing to slow down to accommodate spikes in rainfall intensity.  I don't have the data to prove it, but I intuit that these spikes have become more common than they were when I started driving, and that I am now also more likely to see them outside the American South where violent thunderstorms have traditionally been more common.  This phenomenon (if it can be proven to exist) is likely connected to global warming.

It is often suggested that cruise control should be turned off in rainstorms, because the control logic will result in additional power being pumped to the drive wheels when slip develops and this in turn generates instability that can result in the vehicle going into a spin.  I don't personally abstain from using cruise control unless the rain is quite heavy or has just started and is falling on oil-soaked pavement, but I do pay close attention to steering wheel feel because the development of water wedges underneath the tires causes the wheel to shudder; when shuddering develops, I dial the set speed down until it goes away.
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Re: Do today's new cars make people drive more stupid?
« Reply #40 on: October 25, 2018, 01:46:07 PM »

It is often suggested that cruise control should be turned off in rainstorms, because the control logic will result in additional power being pumped to the drive wheels when slip develops and this in turn generates instability that can result in the vehicle going into a spin. 

I have had 5 cars dating back to 1992 that had cruise control, and on all of them the moment any hydroplaning started the cruise control immediately disengaged.
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Re: Do today's new cars make people drive more stupid?
« Reply #41 on: October 25, 2018, 01:51:24 PM »

Quote
but I think the key culprit is the type of “always-on” glowing dashboards that has become popular in recent years.

BINGO!!!  We have a winner.  For the first several months after getting my 2012 Focus, there were times when I would drive off at night without putting my headlights on first for this exact reason.  Oddly enough, this usually happened not when I was starting out, but if I made a stop along the way, then got back into my car.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2018, 01:57:57 PM by roadman »
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Re: Do today's new cars make people drive more stupid?
« Reply #42 on: October 25, 2018, 01:59:29 PM »

Quote
but I think the key culprit is the type of “always-on” glowing dashboards that has become popular in recent years.

BINGO!!!  We have a winner.  For the first several months after getting my 2012 Focus, there were times when I drive off at night without putting my headlights on first for this exact reason.  Oddly enough, this usually happened not when I was starting out, but if I made a stop along the way, then got back into my car.
What helped me when I started driving was that my father insisted that I should always use my headlights, regardless of lighting and road conditions (he grew up in Norway, where that is required).
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Re: Do today's new cars make people drive more stupid?
« Reply #43 on: October 25, 2018, 03:10:13 PM »

Quote
but I think the key culprit is the type of “always-on” glowing dashboards that has become popular in recent years.

BINGO!!!  We have a winner.  For the first several months after getting my 2012 Focus, there were times when I would drive off at night without putting my headlights on first for this exact reason.  Oddly enough, this usually happened not when I was starting out, but if I made a stop along the way, then got back into my car.

Omg you're right.  Why are we complaining about people using their smartphones while driving, then installing a frickin smartphone in the dashboard of everyone's car?
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Re: Do today's new cars make people drive more stupid?
« Reply #44 on: October 25, 2018, 03:37:06 PM »

I rarely, if ever, run the wipers on a continuous setting at highway speeds.  I generally find Rain-X to be more effective at clearing water from the windshield at speed than the wipers. 

Me too.  I only use wipers on a continuous setting if it's a real downpour.  Sometimes at speeds below 30 mph, too, because the wind often doesn't streak the rain off the windshield fast enough.
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Re: Do today's new cars make people drive more stupid?
« Reply #45 on: October 27, 2018, 02:33:30 PM »

On my particular car, if you cross out of your lane (or what the computer thinks is your lane) the steering wheel shakes and a "womp womp" sound replaces whatever is on the radio. 

….


My wife complains when her car does this (although hers doesn’t mute the stereo). But 95% of the time it’s because she tried to change lanes without using her blinker. I have zero sympathy since she wouldn’t have the problem if she simply did what the law here requires in the first place!
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