Sunday, September 30, 2012

The car to drive when you really shouldn't be driving

Honda knows you. Honda knows you push yourself too hard. You drive when you are half-asleep. You drive distracted, pushing buttons, blathering away on your BlueTooth, adjusting the seat temperature every few seconds, and barking orders at your sound system in between checking the GPS for updated directions to places you've been to a thousand times and could find blindfolded.* So here's a car which gives you permission to drive when you are running on no sleep, have had a bit too much to drink, or are such an incredibly self-absorbed asshat that you really don't give a flying damn that you share the road with other people who also have lives they would like to extend beyond today despite your willingness to be a danger to yourself and everyone else out there. Sucks to be them, I guess- or maybe you think they should be grateful that hey, sure you drive impaired on a regular basis, but at least you've got this car which beeps and lights up just before you are about to kill someone with it.

 Last Friday I said goodbye to my AP history class, jumped into the car, and started the 540-mile drive to my boyhood home in Vermont to spend fall break with my family. At 9PM I was approaching Albany, with about 180 miles to go, and it was dark and drizzly and I was hitting the wall in terms of energy. I suppose that if I had one of these tripped-out Hondas, I would have ignored the warning signs and just kept going, assuming that my Car Knows Best and would let me know before I ran over someone or something important. But because I drive a 2003 Civic with nothing more advanced than a Garmin GPS and a CD player, I decided to pull into a Best Western and play it safe.** Maybe Honda should use me in an ad- "see, John could have driven another three hours and made it home that night safe and sound, if only he had the 2013 Honda. What a loser." Something like that.

 I'm frankly getting a little tired of these "don't worry about the actual 'driving' part of driving, your car's computer will do that for you" commercials, because I really don't want my life in the hands of a fricking chip embedded into the dashboard of a Japanese import. And I'd really appreciate it if Honda, Acura, Lexus etc. would stop sending the message that if you buy their upscale vehicles, you can act like a passenger instead of the manipulator of heavy, fast-moving machinery. If you are tired, take a break. If you can't drive without becoming distracted, DON'T DRIVE. Because "I thought a light was supposed to go off before I plowed into you" isn't going to sound very comforting as they are scraping me off your grille, believe it or not.

 *Honda's 2014 models will compensate for people who really like to drive blindfolded. Only kidding- but it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if it turned out to be true.

 **"Playing it Safe" at Best Western means avoiding the Make Your Own Waffle option at the continental breakfast. In fact, the safest move is to avoid the breakfast, period. The coffee is ok, though.


  1. I really worry about all these automated systems that have no purpose but to enable all the texters, talkers, and other idiots to keep paying attention to everything but the road. We've had all sorts of ways to let them do that for decades. Buses, trains, subways, taxis,...

  2. I remember when car commercials focused on fuel efficiency and actual safety issues (air bags, survivability in crash tests, etc.) Now they are all about having "fun" and continuing to do what you were doing before you got into the car (listening to music, texting, talking on your phone, etc.) with the actual driving rather incidental. Bad news for us innocent bystanders who still think that the main point of automobiles should be to get you from Point A to Point B as safely and efficiently as possible.

    This is also a result of more and more traffic, and constant connectivity- which combine to mean that not only do people spend more time in their cars than ever before, but they also are expected to continue to work while sitting in them. So the guy who just sideswiped you, or the woman who doesn't budge when the light turns green? Probably yakking away about the pending project for the 33rd time since leaving the office an hour ago.

  3. True, there are a lot of job-related pressures which are pushing people to do these things. Before, they'd just stay late and go home at some ungodly hour. Now, they can do the wrap up while en route, and they are probably too worried about losing their jobs to someone more ambitious (read: loyal to The Company) to not be in constant touch with work.