Safety Shouldn’t Be Disabled

Christie Schweinsberg Blogger, Senior Editor

September 17, 2014

2 Min Read
Safety Shouldn’t Be Disabled

When I was little, my siblings and I would climb into my father’s pickup every weekday morning for a ride to my grandparents’ house. He was very strict about us wearing our seatbelts, so I complied with his demand to put mine on.

Wearing my seatbelt has become a lifelong habit, one I’m glad he drilled into my head from a young age.

When I was ready for my first car, a Pontiac Sunfire, I remember caring greatly that it had those new-fangled airbags. Now, when I’m faced with riding around in one of my husband’s classic cars that doesn’t have airbags, I get skittish.

So you’ll understand where I’m coming from when I say it’s unfortunate many of the advanced safety technologies going into vehicles won’t always work when they should.

That’s because, while automakers are telling us systems that alert you when someone is in your blindspot, or that you’re drifting out of your lane or just plain not paying enough attention to the road are the greatest things since sliced bread, they are allowing vehicle owners to disable them.

Why? Well, those chimes and bleeps and bloops can be just so darn annoying, am I right?

If automakers meet the timing they say they will, drivers soon will have even more impressive safety technologies available.

Displayed during last week’s ITS World Congress were vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian systems that will allow drivers to know if a vehicle, motorcycle or bicycle hidden behind an obstruction is about to cross their path or if a pedestrian with his face buried in his smartphone is about to step off the curb in front of their car.

It is amazing stuff, technology that is sure to take a chunk out of the 30,000-plus highway fatalities involving vehicles every year in the U.S., a number many safety advocates agree still is too high given how much time, effort and money has been spent to make cars, trucks and buses, and the people who use them and live around them, safer.

In no way, shape or form does it make sense these technologies, or the aforementioned blindspot detection, lane-departure warning or driver-inattentiveness warnings, should be allowed to be disabled given how many lives they can potentially save, or at the very least, the non-fatal accidents they could prevent.

There have been indications NHTSA will put its foot down and require these advanced safety technologies be continuously on.

There was a time drivers found seatbelts annoying. They were tight, wrinkled your clothes and were just plain contradictory to the freedom driving was supposed to bring. But most got over those issues, realizing seatbelts did more good than harm.

Laws in every state save for live-free-or-die New Hampshire helped too, to the point where a record 87% of Americans buckled up in 2013, up from 60% in 1995, says NHTSA.

Chimes, bleeps and bloops? Drivers just will have to get over those, too.

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