Intrusive Saaaaaaaaaaaaafety Systems

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I just tried to back up the ’15 Mercedes GLA 45 AMG… and it would not let me.

For “safety.”

It snowed (and iced) last night and this morning, when I went outside to get the car ready for pick-up, the windshield, side glass and rear glass were encrusted with a layer of frozen slush. Since all I needed to do was back the car up a little then reposition it a bit – to make room for another car that being dropped off later today – I didn’t want to spend 10 minutes hacking away at ice. I figured I’d just inch the car forward and back with the door cracked open, so I could see what was going on enough to get the car lined up, parked where I wanted it it – and then go back inside (where it’s warm) for some more coffee.

The GLA had other ideas. As soon as I cracked open the door to have a look, the Benz went ballistic. The parking brake came on firmly; the transmission shifted itself out of gear. Forward (and rearward) motion was thus arrested.

Because saaaaaaafety.

Just like the belligerent buzzers that assault you if you attempt to drive almost any new/recent vintage car even 20 feet down the driveway to the mailbox without having first put on the got-damned seat belt. The got-damned buzzer will go off sometimes even if you’re “buckled up” …. but the Subway sandwich you put on the empty passenger’s seat isn’t. Uber-sensitive sensors in the seats think it’s a kid… and nothing is more important than the children… even when they’re a foot-long Italian.

The peremptory, intrusive – dictatorial – tendency of these “safety” systems is spiking my blood pressure. I’d like to know which kleine fuhrer within the Benz bureaucracy decided – for me – that I’m not to be allowed to back up my car with the door open? Well, okay, technically it’s not my car. But it could be. The fact is anyone who buys a new GLA – or any of several other cars that have similar systems (including the ’15 Chrysler 200 I recently reviewed) will be denied the choice to maneuver their vehicle as they see fit.

You will use the back-up camera, kinder… .

And that’s what it comes down to. We’re to be treated as children. Idiot children. Who cannot be trusted to do anything for ourselves – or rather, without “help” (and only in “approved” ways).

This is going to get much worse, soon.

The bits and pieces that – together – will congeal to create the autonomous car (which is a vicious lie, because it’s the furthest thing from being autonomous; it’s controlled by someone – something – else, instead of formerly autonomous you) are already in circulation. This park-as-we-tell-you-system is merely one of several.

Others include:

* Lane Departure Warning – which pesters you with buzzers and lights if the car senses the wheels touching painted lines on the road, ostensibly to prevent people from wandering off the road or across the double yellow into the opposing lane of traffic. But these systems also do the Electronic Flipout Show when you pass another car, which often involves … crossing over painted lines on the road.

* Blind Spot Object Detection – which purports to detect other cars in your blind spot but which also does a fine job confusing earth berms and trees by the side of the road with other cars.  Annoyed? Wait till you have to replace either side mirror “assembly” (into which the Electronic Flipout Show is built).

* Collision Mitigation/Braking – which assumes you’re so busy texting or beating off to Internet porn accessed via the in-car Wi-Fi (or playing on the in-car DVD) that you haven’t noticed stopped traffic up ahead and will pile-drive into it, if the computer doesn’t intervene and stop the car for you. But these systems want you to begin braking roughly 100 yards before you really need to (assuming you’re not beating off to Internet porn) and will absolutely freak out – or rather, freak you out – if you fail to do so. The Electronic Flipout Show – flashing red lights erupting, frantic buzzers buzzing.

Throw it all in the Woods!





  1. I am afraid for the day that cars talk to each other(everyone can safely drive this agreed to speed, or else!), require thumbprint (smartphone style login) to start, and an ignition lockout until the I agree button is attested that holds the manufacturer harmless for the ways you might injure yourself, and traffic code violations, when not fully automatically controlled, emailed you your car’s email address, as it snitched on you to the “Costume wearing persons with Guns”…

    “My uncle has a country place, that no one knows about…”
    RUSH 2112

  2. To be honest, this “safety” feature actually makes the car MORE unsafe. Why?

    Because now someone that would have looked through that open door to back up a few feet will now: Just back the car up with the door closed……………………..not looking at all. We all know someone will run into something they otherwise would have not, had they been looking out an open door.

    I think those backup cameras will also in the long run (as time goes on and fewer cars will not have them) inspire even fewer people to look out the rear window when backing up. The camera will see all,,,,,,,,,right????? right??????

    New drivers won’t have a clue what to do when they end up in a car without a camera (like when they encounter a manual transmission). And you just know some will not be smart enough to turn around and look……

    My brother has made an observation about kids today (he works in a park district). The safety culture has made some kids MORE reckless, because they think safety equipment will “save” them (from injury etc). But he thinks it has actually made most kids far more timid and scared of things, as helicopter parents warn them about safety all the time.

    I think in some ways we see this in people in their twenties already, as they are the first generation raised in a society ruled by “safety”.

    • Hi Rich,

      I agree with you. I have the perspective of someone who drives a different new car each week – and who has done so for the past 20-something years. I also have the experience of owning and driving numerous cars built long before these “safety” technologies existed. Some observations/thoughts:

      * The remote/back-up camera’s viewing field is much more limited (peripherally, especially) than the view one gets by rotating one’s head and using one’s own eyes. It’s true you can’t see directly underneath/immediately behind the bumper (I mean, directly under where the license plate typically mounts) where – possibly – a “child” might be sleeping. But which is more likely? That? Or a child toddling (or riding its bike) into the path of the backing up car from the side… ? Using the camera alone, you won’t see the latter coming – because it’s outside the camera’s field of vision – and continue to back up, very possibly striking the kid.

      * The camera’s view is distorted vs. eyeball view. It’s a typically a grainy, poorly lit – and fishbowl – view of the world, projected at a weird angle onto a screen that – even in the best case – is no larger than about 10×10 (and most are much smaller than that).

      * The cameras are a Band Aid, pushed on us to try to quietly cover up the fact that previous government “safety” standards created the problem (for the most part) of children being inadvertently (we must assume) being crushed underneath the wheels of soccer mom SmooVees. Federal bumper impact standards have given us vehicles with Oprah Asses – broad and wide and jutting skyward. The asses are so big (and tall) that it has become much harder to see directly behind the car. Especially when you add in the view-obstructing “anti-whiplash” (and also tall) headrests that are now standard equipment in every new car (for “safety”) which further obscure the already obscured view you’ve got of the world behind you.

    • Richb, agreed:

      “The safety culture has made some kids MORE reckless..”

      Especially in permanent school and low speed limit zones, where kids of all ages blithely amble across the road expecting drivers to be at fault (read: speeding) if they get hit. Kids also use suburban streets as playgrounds for ball games et. al., while just 50 metres from a park.

      It’s always deemed the driver’s fault, because that makes the blame easier and hence the money as well.

  3. Since the 70’s, I’ve noticed in ‘merikan films and TV that cars there seem to have a door open warning bell. Who the hell’s stupid enough to not realise they’re driving off with the door open?

    I mean, there are some that don’t close the door fully, but rather than having a simple light on the dash (or the dome light stays on as usual) that we’ve had for decades, somehow an irritating noise is also required?

    Notice also in ‘merikan films and TV that when the driver parks and alights, they never turn off the headlights unless they’re in underground parking. Weird. They even did it in early movies before headlight auto-off timers. It irritates me because I can’t help thinking about the battery going flat.

  4. How many deaths are from people falling out of a moving vehicle? Especially one that is moving under 2 mph?

    All of this safety shit is based on the idea that more people die in automobile accidents than activity “X.” That’s all well and good, but what’s the point? Bad driving is the cause of most accidents, with weather playing a big part as well. Who’s in charge of determining who can and can’t drive? That’s right, the state. What about maintaining roads during hazardous weather? Again, the state. But if there’s a failure of the system, the state manages to shift the blame from itself to the manufacturers.

    If you built cars, what would you do?

    • 1. Find a new line of work – maybe varmint control.
      2. Engage in said line of work to demolish the varmints in government.
      3. Avoid capture – you KNOW the GunVermin are going to come looking…

      At a certain point, you need to take a stand. Generally, we (Americans) concede the field – we’ve been conditioned to think the cost is too great.
      Real fisherman – DO NOT – feel sorry for the bait.

      We should follow that wisdom. Otherwise, when they came for the social Democrats, I said nothing, because I was not a social democrat… (etc) and when they finally came for me, there was no one TO speak out…

  5. My damn GMC Sierra 2014 beeps everytime I am near a curb or pulling into a parking spot. Then when you start the truck up to pull out of the parking spot the bastard beeps at me again to remind me the bush is still in front of me as I am in reverse. It has gotten to the point where I ignore the safety warning so it has no effect and will never work. The reverse camera doesn’t come close to being as effective as checking three mirrors and turning my head around like I have been doing for 25 years of driving.

  6. There’s only one safety device we need and, it’s likely the best.

    A boxing glove (or lump of wood) fired from under the steering column straight into your average clover’s nuts after the car senses he’s done something stupid, such as getting behind the wheel in the first place would be a great start.

    Rather than simply protecting and allowing him to survive his typically low-IQ misadventures in order to repeat them almost daily, this saaaaaafety system will ensure he learns with each mishap.

    The system is also programmed so that immediately following the third infraction on a single commute, the steering turns sharply to the gutter, ensuring clover will be flung off the road and impaled on a tree, greatly reducing danger to all those around because it’s clear the idiot won’t learn.

    He then receives a final nut-punch and a voice-over from the stereo system says “Idiot!”, or something appropriately rated for his wife and children if they’re present.

  7. hmmm. need that “collision mitigation” on some big rigs, like the one that ran over me but it needs to be hooked to the emergency stop buttons to wake that stupid SOB up and stop the truck both. I’ve wondered since if the DOT would harass me for a brace of tow missiles up top……and a set of HARM’s for those unneeded guests.


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