If a person is unable to competently parallel park a car – arguably a basic skill – do they have any business driving one? In a culture seemingly obsessed with saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety, this question is rarely raised and almost never answered.
The answer is, of course – no.
While driving is certainly a right, incompetence is a problem. A person who mishandles a firearm is not encouraged to handle firearms, yet another tool – equally dangerous – is put into the hands of people whose hands arguably should never touch a steering wheel.
Encourages such people to “drive” – by Band-Aiding their obvious incompetence via “assistance” that in prior times was unavailable and by dint of that kept the unable off the road by making their incapacity obvious as well as a liability. People who lacked the competence to park were unable to do so – and that kept them driving around or trying to park and not succeeding . . . which served as a deterrent.
It worked very much as not being able to hold up a motorcycle or operate two different levers that control two separate functions (clutch and front brake) plus a foot-controlled lever for the gears keeps people who can’t operate them from riding a motorcycle. This serves to keep people who should not ride motorcycles from doing so.
But driving is different because there is more money in it. Because it redounds to the benefit of the car companies to get as many people driving (and buying cars) as possible, even if they can’t.
Thus, they get “assisted” – and the car parks itself. Which hides the incompetence – but only while the car parks.
How about while it moves?
Oh, there is “assistance” for that, too. “Assistance” to keep the car from wandering out of its lane because it is apparently too much to expect the driver to keep the car in its travel lane. “Assistance” when braking is necessary – and even when it isn’t. “Assistance” to maintain speed – and to prevent “speeding,” too.
There is even what amounts to acceleration assistance – a thing styled Launch Control. It is a technology designed to let people who lack the skill to “launch” a high-performance car appear to drive it expertly down a straight race track. A button is pushed and all the “driving” that’s involved from that moment forward is to hold the brake while stomping on the gas and then releasing the brake.
It makes anyone “fast.”
Which of course makes them dangerous.
Because now the “driver” believes he is fast – and not only in a straight line. He may attempt to drive fast in the curves and because there is no High Speed Cornering “Assistance” technology – yet – he may discover very quickly how lacking his skills as a driver are.
Hopefully no one else will be in the vicinity.
The false confidence engendered by all of this “assisting” explains the ubiquity of poor and worsening driving, in spite of all this “assisting.”
People driving really fast in a straight line – because the cars have never been more powerful than they are now – then panic-braking in the curves or overshooting them or cutting them wide, half their car over the double yellow and in the opposing lane.
People tailgating because they feel saaaaaaaaaaaaaafe . . . because ABS will prevent them from rear-ending the car ahead of them – which it won’t, if there’s insufficient following distance to prevent it. ABS merely prevents the wheels from locking up and the car from skidding into the rear-end of the car ahead.
Instead it plows into the car ahead nicely on center.
ABS all by itself probably accounts for 50 percent of the increase in the average cost of insurance – now over $1,000 annually.
The same people stop on hills in the snow.
It is all a kind of Harrison Bergeron in reverse. Instead of hobbling the able the unable are crutched – but the end result is effectively the same:
People who cannot drive because they never had to learn how, behind the wheel of a dangerous implement made more dangerous by technology that crutches debility, thereby encouraging more and worse.
Try to imagine an airplane piloted by someone who never had to learn how to calculate load/take-off math, didn’t know how to set the flaps or what “V1” meant and instead occupied a seat and pushed a button. Wheee!
Would you get on board?
Yet we are on the road with people who have as much business behind the wheel as such a person has behind the stick.
Thankfully, airplanes – and firearms – still have their own way of dealing with people who have no business touching either.
It’s a shame that’s not the case with cars anymore.
. . .
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