The Dangers of Saaaaaaaaaaaafety

Safety is getting pretty dangerous.

In particular, the driver “assists” (as they’re styled) being added as part of the standard equipment suite in almost all new cars. These are really driver-pre-emption technologies which countersteer – and apply the brakes – when the computer decides that these interventions are necessary.

Leaving aside the nannying issue, there is a safety issue with all this “assistance” – which is sometimes provided when it’s not wanted much less needed.

I’ve experience this myself, test-driving new cars. I was driving one of these – a new Prius, equipped with Automated Emergency Braking – when it applied the brakes – full force – for no apparent reason. I almost had dashboard for lunch. There was no deer in the road. The car ahead of me had not braked – let alone stopped. But the Prius did. Completely. In the middle of a road that was – thankfully – not busy at the time.

Had it been busy, I might have been ended – as slamming on the brakes and stopping in the middle of the road can be unhealthy if there’s a semi behind you.

Humans watching the road anticipate the need to slow/stop. They cover the brake; are ready to brake. Gift Card i... Buy New $10.00 (as of 08:25 EST - Details)

These automated systems apply full stop electronically, without warning – and sometimes, without reason.

Boom – crash.

These systems can’t be overridden by the driver once automatically activated. The computer also cuts the throttle as it applies the brakes, so frantic slamming of the accelerator pedal to the floor will do absolutely nothing until the computer decides that “assistance” is no longer needed.

You’ve lost control over “your” car – put in air quotes to emphasize the absurdity. Like “your” house that’s paid off but which you’re still obliged to pay taxes on, forever, in order to be allowed to continue living there.

Control is the functional definition of ownership. That which you don’t control, you don’t really own – no matter the paperwork.

And it’s not just me that’s experienced this.

843 people have lodged formal complaints with the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about their vehicles braking suddenly for no apparent reason. There have been at least 14 crashes and several reported injuries. More than half a million Nissan vehicles are the focus of the just-opened investigation into the matter – but it’s potentially millions of vehicles.

And not just Nissans.

NHTSA is looking into Nissan Rogues made between 2017 and 2018. But as I experienced – and not just the once – other makes and models of cars also automatically brake when there’s no reason for them to do so.

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