One Armed Bandits

One Armed Bandits

OneShift Editorial Team
OneShift Editorial Team
18 Mar 2013

Automatic transmissions seem to be major contributors to this malaise. With no need to operate a clutch pedal or to manually shift gears, drivers end up focusing less on communicating with and manipulating their vehicles. There has been a general loss of interaction between man and machine, as cars become more (some say too) intelligent, insulated and capable. Driving faster, changing lanes or negotiating bends and slopes require little consideration from the drivers, as all that is required is a prod of the right foot and a copious application of braking, if necessary. Drivers’ left hands have, as current behavior would suggest, become redundant in the driving process, and are now free to explore the vast expanse of the car’s internal landscape.

Complicated climate control systems, multi-function in-car entertainment, modules satellite navigation, Bluetooth connections, and all other manner of configurable settings can and do act as distractions to drivers who, really, should be almost entirely concerned with driving in a safe and responsible manner. Perhaps carmakers expect too much from the common driver, by developing steering-mounted controls, adjustable heads-up displays, multi function touch screens and switches that are better suited in a F-22 than a sedan. An over-reliance on some inherently useful safety features such as reverse sensors, blind spot alerts and parking cameras have eroded core driving abilities and made drivers complacent. Images on screens and aural cues do not replace old-fashioned turns over the head to see if the path is clear.

Just as a base amount of stress is considered healthy and useful in stimulating productivity in workers, a certain quantum of driver involvement is paramount I keeping drivers engaged on the roads. Rather than aiming to be “productive” while driving (texting, talking on the phone, having one’s mind consumed with life’s burdens) or viewing driving as a necessary evil for getting from Point A to Point B, drivers should take a moment to appreciate what a privilege it is (especially in Singapore) to be behind the wheel and endeavor to immerse themselves fully in driving.

There are a number of ways to develop better driving skills. Practice looking far ahead and anticipating traffic in order to prevent unnecessary stops or lane changes. Pay closer attention to the wear and tear of your tyres, and work out which inflation pressure best suits your needs and driving style. Focus on keeping your car in its optimum rev band in order to maximize performance and efficiency, and switch to semi-auto mode to manage gear changes on your own, should your car have such a feature. This heightened awareness about one’s vehicle and surroundings will add to a collective movement towards better road habits and graciousness in Singapore, leading ultimately to safer journeys for everyone

So, the next time you’re tempted to give less than 100% attention to piloting your vehicle, or if you notice anyone else gambling by not taking driving as seriously as they should, remember that defensive driving not only prevents you from being a menace to others, but also protects you from those who have yet to reach motoring enlightenment.

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