Strident opinions and mouth-frothing rage by Jacob Black
Dear Nanny System, Go Away. Click image to enlarge
Dear motor vehicle designers, I am an adult. A full-grown (well, almost – I’m 5’6”), self-sufficient man, father, husband-to-be, etc., etc. I know how to use computers; I know how to make omelettes and espresso coffees. I can ride motorbikes, drive cars and even use power tools (when my family is a safe distance away – like Alaska).
So why exactly, do you feel the need to constantly insulate me from the hidden dangers of my vehicle’s interior? Like an overwrought parent rushing to apply felt padding to every corner of the playroom, you insist on filling my vision with redundant lights and warning labels.
You fill our cars with fun and convenient features – and then lock them once we get in the car! Why? Why must you pander to the absolute lowest common denominator? We are not (generally) idiots. Yes there are idiots in the world – but big whoop! There are sharks in the ocean too… I still go swimming.
I don’t need you to tell me that the passenger airbag is disabled – I know there is nobody in the passenger seat. I can see it. I also don’t need you to tell me when the passenger airbag is enabled – for the same reasons.
I like your GPS systems though. They help me win arguments – oh, but wait… no they don’t. I can’t use them. Why? Well, like most families we are movement people. We don’t have time to sit and wait and program our destination – especially not when we’re approaching an off-ramp and my fiancée says I’m taking the wrong one.
“Easy fix then,” we say. “Let’s check the nav system.”
“Nope. None for you driver boy, you’re driving,” says Mr. Car.
“But I’m the passenger – see, you have enabled the airbag for me.”
“No GPS while the car is moving! Grrr!” barks Mr. Car.
So we try the voice commands, but it’s hard to tell the GPS where you want to go with your toddler in the back.
“Find 468 Not A Real Street, Quebec.”
“Daddy, why are you yelling at the car?”
“Did you mean, ‘Find 648 Not a Yellow Hat, Carlsberg’?” – see what I mean?
Thankfully, some cars do allow you to program the GPS from the passenger seat – GM’s Impala is one example.
And the Audi S4 will give you a warning that operating controls while the vehicle is in motion is very, very dangerous (handy hint that) – but then it will allow you to do as you like, anyway. Bravo Audi!
Oh wait. No, bad Audi. Want to release your parking brake? Not without your foot on the brake pedal. In a manual. There you are, ready to go, clutch at bite point, ready to drive off to the zoo on a family adventure – whoops, you forgot to release the parking brake. No problem, let me flick this button aannndd…. Nada. Grrr. Let me push the clutch back down all the way, move my foot from the accelerator to the brake, and then release the parking brake. Heaven help me if I ever need to do a hill start!