MAY 8,2012: THE BEST REASON WHY DISTRACTED DRIVING LAWS ARE UNNECESSARY IN AN OLD CAR

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Today’s cars and trucks are veritable home entertainment centers and mobile offices.

 

You can watch a movie, hold a teleconference, search for porn and sometimes steer the vehicle.Incidentally,Google is even working on the steering angle with robo-drivers.

 

Distracted driving is a big problem on the road.

 

Too many people believe they can “multi-task”; a shallow and tired buzz word designed to let people that are mediocre at their main task off the hook.

 

The philosophy behind multi-tasking is a basic tenet that expectations of actual proficiency are lowered when you dilute the principal task with secondary tasks to disguise wholesale incompetence in the primary task.

 

That is why old cars and trucks are such a great cure for multi-tasking: you have to lend your complete and undivided attention to the singular task of keeping the old iron on the road.

 

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Most drivers in the 21st Century have never experienced any time behind the wheel of a car from a bygone era of automotive engineering.

 

They have no idea what it is like to pilot a 50 or 60 year old vehicle down the road and keep it on the road. These babies wandered more than a drunken sailor on shore leave the day after the cars left the dealership, let alone after the cars and trucks had 50 or 100,000 miles on the tie rods, idler arms and king-pins. Throw in a tired steering box and any driver with no time in the cockpit of an old school ride will have a death grip on the giant steering wheels of the old iron.

 

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Old cars have their own personality, and sometimes that personality is a death wish. They were born to wander on the road and they like to wander even more as they get old and tired, unlike aging humans. Old cars and trucks particularly like to wander into a convenient steep ditch or oncoming traffic and end it all when given a golden self-destruction opportunity with a driver with little experience and attention span problems.

 

I have driven many old cars over the years so I am usually able to compensate for the playful slack in the steering wheel because I have been there and driven that enough to know the drill. A glaring exception was a late 50s car from last summer that had a mind of its own on the road.

 

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Most old cars and trucks will give drivers ample warning when they decide to meander off the beaten path, but this car would take suddenly take off on its own and not give a clear indication of how and when a driver could compensate for the steering play. That was not fun in any dictionary definition of the word and it was well beyond the normal expectations of a typical retro-ride driving experience.

 

I thought about how well a distracted driver with no experience would handle that old girl. Throw in a cell phone, text messaging and one hand on the wheel and you would have yourself a garden variety MVA, body count to be determined at a later date.

 

In the end, that becomes another clear strength of an old car. They do not simply ask for your undivided attention.

 

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The old cars demand your attention when you climb behind the wheel because their distracted drivers might pay a big price in a big hurry for their inattentiveness. 

 

Jim Sutherland

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