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Are driver aids causing more accidents?

Tuesday, January 09, 2024

Graphic showing an old man driving a cartoonish Prius crashing into two bowling pins. The pins are painted to look like school kids

Recent weeks have seen more incidents involving Prius Missiles where the driver assumed the vehicle should have done something to stop them being an idiot. The one that sticks out is the individual who ran over a dog and seems to think it isn't their fault because the animal was too small for the driver-aids to detect.

My experience as a user is limited as I drive as if these tools don't exist. Aside from my car stopping me from filtering on one occasion (it stopped dead!) and the odd beep at a particular bend where it's convinced I'm driving straight at a wall, it's kept out of my way.

However, I wonder if we're increasingly treating these aids as if they drive for us. Are we assuming they can do more than they're capable of? And do we subconsciously believe that our 6-year-old Prius has the same capabilities as one that just rolled off the production line?

I'll also wager the number of people still driving past their sell-by-date and hoping the car will save them is creeping up. And don't get me started on driving with the wheel in one hand and phone in the other.

We'll not see a critical mass of autonomous vehicles on the road for a couple of decades, particularly as the current crop of cars seems hell-bent on lasting 20 years without breaking a sweat. Until then we'll continue to see Prius Missiles on the news, and their confused pilots convinced the car should have saved them and their victims.

My name is Ross Hori

I'm a freelance writer, designer and photographer. By day I create articles, features and reports. At night I take photos and write fiction.

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