Thursday, July 16, 2009

How driving a car today is different from the past

Few people driving cars today do remember how it was 20, 30 or even 50 years ago. Many things that were part of the routine in the past are not needed anymore, for example adjusting the ignition, changing the mix of air and fuel to start the engine (choke) or starting the fuel pump. Some people may have even forgotten that we used ignition keys for quite some time to start the engine (not a starter button and a "keyless" go system) as I noted in a former post. And as more and more cars are equipped with automatic or automated gearboxes we don't need to manually shift gears anymore today. The turning lights go back to neutral themselves, the windscreen wipers start and stop if rain falls or doesn't. Even the driving lights go on and off automatically. So, basically, very few tasks actually have to be performed by the driver himself anymore it seems. So what does the driver do with all the time he gained? Well, let's face it, driving got a lot more complicated due to more traffic and more regulation. For example, today, a driver spends a significant share of his attention span to check for speed limits and radar controls. With more streets and more complex routing he also needs to be more awake when driving. He has to program a navigation system and take phone calls. He has access to highly sophisticated sound systems and a choice of thousands of (MP3) songs at his fingertip. So, basically, all of the time he gained by better driver support systems is now focused on observing traffic and environment and handling electronics in the car. That's probably one of the reasons why driving a classic car is so enjoying. First you don't go into difficult traffic with such a car and secondly there's nothing to prevent you from enjoying the basic mechanics of such a car.

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