When Tesla began marketing the autopilot feature on its vehicles, it was thinking more along the lines of creating safer driving conditions for its drivers and for everyone on the highways who encountered them. Think lane control, collision intervention, park-assist and even 4-wheel drive. Using innovative technology such as forward- and rear-facing cameras, sensors, radar and dynamic cruise-control, Teslas can almost — the operative word here — almost drive themselves safely to most destinations.
With one small disclaimer — you still need to keep your hands on the wheel.
Unfortunately, not all drivers of autopilot cars realize this — as the elderly mother of a YouTuber found out earlier this month when her son placed her behind the wheel of his Tesla and took to the open road using the car’s autopilot system to navigate against on-coming traffic.
Needless to say, the 70-year-old mom was a little nervous allowing the car to take control, even with her son sitting safely beside her in the passenger seat, ready to regain control should the need arise.
The woman’s mini panic attack went viral quickly, and her son took the video down, but not before those in the know took advantage of the situation to scold some drivers for the way they use the autopilot feature.
“He should have told her to keep her hands on the steering wheel.” wrote Electrek.com’s Fred Lambert. Apparently, keeping your hands on the wheel while your vehicle assumes control over acceleration and navigation lends an air of comfort to the driver, making for a safer journey. Who knew?
Of course, it also helps to prepare your elderly parent before placing him or her behind the wheel and taking away manual control too.
The YouTuber only meant to cast a humorous light on the reluctance of older drivers to use autopilot, but his video brings up a valid conundrum — the plight of aging drivers on today’s highways and back roads.
According to the National Institutes of Health, your risk of crash increases as you age, with drivers over the age of 75 most at-risk. Common causes include failing to come to a complete stop at stop signs, driving too slowly, failing to yield the right-of-way, swerving across lanes and misjudging time or distance needed to stop. Intersections are a concern for older drivers, as are merge areas, with drivers getting “T-boned” for failing to stop or yield.
Does a vehicle’s autopilot feature assist these drivers? Or does it create a liability when they’re forced to overcome half a century of driving experience?
You’re never too old to attend traffic school. Whether you’re a driver of advanced age who’s loosing your confidence on today’s highways or a driver of any age who just needs a brisk refresher class, an online defensive driving course is the answer. Brush up on your rules of the road and on all the new and innovative technology that’s available to make driving today safer and more efficient when you enroll. You’ll not only decrease your chances of being involved in an automobile accident, but you could shave dollars off your monthly car insurance premium as well. Many insurance companies offer “safe driver” or “mature driver” discounts to members who voluntarily decide to attend traffic school with the intention of simply becoming safer and more confident behind the wheel.
Online traffic school courses can help you become a better defensive driver. It can help you avoid additional points on your license if you’ve already received a citation. It can also earn you safe driver insurance discounts and help to dismiss a citation you’ve already received. You have nothing to lose by enrolling and everything to gain. A small time commitment may be all it takes to make you a safer, more confident driver.