I have been driving for over 50 years, spending those first ten years or so driving a standard stick shift, (in my cute-as-a-bug MG convertible.) It wasn’t a difficult car to drive, having to downshift and use a clutch was just part of the routine. Upon entering motherhood, an automatic Plymouth Barracuda entered the picture, and was driven for over 15 years. I was thrilled that it was less work than the standard and made driving much easier. Numerous similar cars have followed and nary an accident has touched my bumpers in all these years.
Recently my latest family car, a 2004, was out of commission for some routine electrical work, and I found myself driving a 2022 rental car. Usually an intelligent person, my brain went limp when handling this new vehicle with all its new doo dads and such. First off, it had keyless entry, which meant that the key was not needed to open the locked door, it just needed to be NEAR the locked door, and it opened the door automatically. Secondly, the actual key was not needed to start the car, again it just needed to be in the vicinity of the keyhole, which was no longer a keyhole at all. I awkwardly put the actual key in the drink holder, and characteristically forgot it a few times…
Secondly, this car had a video back-up camera. Rather than having to look over my shoulder and strain my neck ten times, it was easy to see obstacles behind me on the video screen. My usual five minutes to back up was trimmed down to only one confident minute to get on my way. Also, when trying to switch lanes, I am super nervous about anything in my blind spot, (cars, bicyclists,) but this jewel of a vehicle flashed lights on the mirrors to warn me of impending obstacles. Later, while drinking my Diet Coke and trying to eat an Egg McMuffin while driving on Route 95, I found out about the lane departure warning, with an audible warning alert when I ventured slightly into the next lane.
It was characteristically busy driving down Route 2 in Warwick before the holidays, and I was flabbergasted when the lights started flashing on the dashboard, an audible alert came on and my seat started to vibrate, warning me that I was getting too close to the car in front of me, and then the rental car actually braked itself so as not to hit the car in front of me. Although I had not estimated that I was close enough to actually hit the car, the car thought differently, and possibly the first accident in my life was prevented.
I am one that always filled the gas tank as soon as the red alerting light would come on, fearing the tank would be empty at any time and I would be stuck by the side of the road gasless. However, the dashboard on this rental car indicated the mileage I could go with the amount of gas in the tank. The light came on and indicated I needed to gas within twenty-one miles. Imagine, knowing in advance exactly when I would run out of gas! I blatantly took advantage of this warning and filled the tank with five miles to go in the tank.
What amazing features this new car had! Parking sensors perfectly guided me into a parking spot, Apple Play let me plug my iPhone in to receive visual phone calls and view Google Maps, automatic high beam headlights turned themselves on and off while driving on a dark road, automatic climate control allowed me to choose the temperature with which I was most comfortable, (including heating my seat,) automatic windshield wipers sensed how much rain was on my windshield and acted accordingly, and when I got out, luckily, the rear seat reminder alerted me to the fact that I had a bag of groceries, including my favorite ice cream, to remove out from the back seat.
Oh, yes, this car was a marvel, as was my wonderment in how anyone could pay $40,000 for a car!