Sunday, July 15, 2012

Self-Inflicted Nanny State

That's right: self-inflicted. The main vehicle in our family is a rather gorgeous and willing, Sizzle red Holden SV6 Sportwagon. It's got whizz bangs and geegaws up the whatsit. You can access all the iWizardry of my iPhone 4 via the illuminated thumb wheel on the multiadjustable steering wheel. The phone book in said phone is accessible through the touch screen on my centre console, as is recent call history. I can switch between iPod streaming, USB connection, HDD burned CDs, or if I'm feeling old skool, AM/ FM radio.

The engine management system ensures that fewer baby whales are killed by my right foot than ever before (can't say the same for Japan or South Korea), and, we are hardly struggling for grunt with 210+ KW pushing the rear wheels in appropriate directions with impressive enthusiasm.

There is also an arms length of sensors and design elements incorporated to give my family maximum safety (5 Stars says NCAP). Best of all, if I am suddenly confronted by Skippy leaping across the highway in the rain on a Sunday afternoon, all that electrickery (AKA Electronic Stability Control or ESC) will bring myself and my family to a halt in the fastest and safest way possible. Skippy hops away and we're all feeling warm and fuzzy.

Sounds great right? Well it is, but today I feel a little.... cheap. For the second time this week, I have driven the Sportwagon into the ESC safety net. They weren't massive incidents that I couldn't get out of and the intervention is as unobtrusive as one could hope for, but that is hardly the point.

I spend a lot of time in my piece of crap 10 year old Vectra with a now sagging head lining, manual winder windows and intermittent volume control, honing my car control skills during my daily commute. If I get it wrong in "Victoria" as she is known, things can go pear shaped quickly so I make every consideration about where to stick which boot and when to "spare the rod".

In the Sportwagon however, I seem to have gotten lazy, knowing that ESC will save my ass. It wasn't a conscious decision, but, now I am aware of it, and, I feel like a cheat!

Think about how that will play out in the general motoring public. Drivers will spend less time thinking about what their car is doing, instead, driving to the electronically imposed limit. It's a scary proposition, especially when it becomes the norm for a car to save you from yourself and car companies start getting sued for not taking over when you are trying to text your #bff.

It's not the end of the world. It's not too late. Turn off your OEM installed nanny goats and go do some donuts.

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