Why take off the training wheels?
Wouldn’t it be “safer” to leave them on – even after the kid learned how to ride the bike without them? It would help prevent the kid from toppling over. Of course he might never learn how to competently ride the bike – or rather, how to keep it balanced, on his own – if you never took them off.
And what if you took them off, then? Before he’d learned how to ride without them?
Add a few thousand pounds of steel, glass and plastic – plus 70 miles-per-hour.
Every new car and most cars built since about five years ago comes standard with the electronic equivalent of training wheels that never come off. Always-on “advanced safety technologies,” such as automated emergency braking that stops the car if the driver is too asleep-at-the-wheel to have noticed traffic ahead has stopped. That beeps (and sometimes, brakes) if the driver doesn’t see there’s something behind him – a person or another car – he’s about to back into (or over). That keeps the car in its travel lane so the driver can concentrate on the text he’s sending.
Unless, of course, the weather turns them off. Without warning – and just like that. No net driving.
“Advanced safety technologies” depend on little cameras that are embedded in the front and rear bumpers of new cars. These see when the driver isn’t looking – or paying attention. What they see – data about the evolving traffic situation around the vehicle – is fed into computers that can (and do) intervene to correct for driver error, including the driver simply not paying attention.
The training wheels will do that – and he assumes it. The knowledge that the bike cannot tip over gives the kid a false confidence that he has learned how to ride the bike, which of course he hasn’t, really. It is why the true measure of riding competence is being able to balance the bike without the training wheels. It is why a rider who has developed the skill to balance his bike no longer needs the training wheels, ever again.
But a coating of ice (or mud, for that matter) over the camera’s eyes effectively blinds the modern car’s training wheels – the “advanced driver assistance technologies.” The car no longer automatically brakes if the driver fails to notice that traffic ahead has slowed – or stopped. That another car has just turned into its path from a side road. It is now up to the driver to keep the car in its travel lane.
What if he does not?
What if he cannot?
These “advanced driver assistance technologies” are habituating a generation of new drivers, who came of age in the age of all this “assistance,” to assume the electronic safety net will always be there to catch them. Some are no doubt unworried about taking care to avoid following too closely, to maintain adequate following distances and to keep their eyes (and minds) on the constantly evolving traffic situation – rather than the text they just received – because they have been taught to drive in cars that have their own eyes – and minds.
What parent would send his kid down a steep hill on his bike before the kid learned how to ride it without training wheels? Or took them off before the kid was ready – without telling the kid?
A car equipped with “advanced driver assistance technology” will at least tell the driver when the net is no longer there. A message will generally appear in the instrument cluster so advising him. But what if the driver doesn’t pay attention to that? Isn’t the premise underlying all of this “assistance” that it is needed precisely because the driver isn’t paying attention? If he’s not paying attention to the road – to the evolving traffic situation – what makes anyone think he’ll pay attention to a pop-up warning in the instrument cluster?
And even if he does notice the car advising him the net’s no longer there, will he suddenly transform into a more attentive driver on account of that?
Maybe the “safest” thing to do when weather impairs the ability of “technology” to come to the “assistance” of drivers who never learned how to and so need such “assistance” is to prevent them from being able to drive the car when it cannot keep them “safe,” via “technology.”
If the cameras are iced over – or otherwise vision-limited, as by fog – then the car “assists” the driver by not moving, at all.
That would be “safest” of all.
Well, aside from taking off the training wheels. After the “kid” has learned how to “ride” without them.
. . .
If you like what you’ve found here please consider supporting EPautos.
PS: Get an EPautos magnet or sticker or coaster in return for a $20 or more one-time donation or a $10 or more monthly recurring donation. (Please be sure to tell us you want a magnet or sticker or coaster – and also, provide an address, so we know where to mail the thing!)
My eBook about car buying (new and used) is also available for your favorite price – free! Click here. If that fails, email me at EPeters952@yahoo.com and I will send you a copy directly!