Are modern safety features making driving skills obsolete?

Autonomous cars are on the horizon
by Jason Tulio | Dec 11, 2017

The autonomous future will be here faster than we can fathom. Before long, our cars will be able to drive themselves with little to no input from us pesky humans. Some cars today are equipped with safety features that make driving a lot simpler. In the past, your dad or tito would brag that squeezing into any parallel parking spot was a cinch with his keen eye and sure foot. These days, idiot-proof sensors and cameras make that feat much easier no matter your driving skill. Hell, some cars nowadays can even park themselves.

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Recently, we got the chance to try out the features of the new Nissan X-Trail in a specially designed set of driving activities. The most interesting one included navigating a short course with the windshield and front windows blacked out. Using nothing but the cameras and sensors on the vehicle, we were able to maneuver the X-Trail around in a controlled environment. 

The key word here is controlled. It was one thing to use Nissan's tech to squeeze between some rubber cones on an empty field, but what about in the minefield known as Metro Manila's streets? Can these features replace the honed survival skills of an experienced driver? To gain a bit more insight, we asked Nissan Philippines president and managing director Ramesh Narasimhan for his thoughts on how these features apply in the real world. He's been living and working in Metro Manila for over a year, so he's very familiar with just how chaotic it can be. 

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"Careful driving is always required. I don't think that's ever going to disappear, certainly not in a city like Manila," Mr. Narasimhan shares. "But what the Nissan Intelligent Mobility features help you to do is to make [driving] a little bit safer and a little bit easier. Take for example the Around View Monitor. You can use that feature to park in a really tight spot, no matter what. It doesn't matter whether it's Manila or provincial, wherever it is.

"Blind Spot Warning—I mean, there is constant interaction when you're driving in Manila between the vehicle and two-wheelers that come out of nowhere. At least you know that they are there in the blind spot because your car warns you. While [on this course] it's a controlled environment, they can be used anywhere in day-to-day practical driving. Absolutely."

Rest assured, your tito's vaunted parking skills are still useful. Modern safety features are a welcome addition, but as long as we're still the ones behind the wheel, proper driving will always be the most important thing.

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PHOTO: Jason Tulio
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