How is technology shaping our driving?

Technology is expanding in almost every aspect of our world, so it’s no surprise that it’s more present than ever inside our cars. From devices that locate lost keys to Bluetooth that connects to our MP3 players, technological advancements are a luxury that can make our driving lives easier and more enjoyable.

However, as technology continues to grow, these advancements are becoming less of a luxury and more of a necessity, with many new technologies claiming to improve car safety and reduce risk on the roads. The link between technology and driving is a controversial one, as proven by the recent stir in the media over futuristic self-driving cars – but just how much can we expect technology to change the way we drive?

You only need to compare a car from the 1950s to one from today to see the huge impact technology has already had on our driving. Power steering was only introduced in the late fifties, and the first passenger airbag wasn’t installed into cars until the 1970s, highlighting how ‘new’ technology can become an essential feature of all cars. While modern day technology can often be seen as more of a novelty, it seems some gadgets are becoming ingrained into our everyday driving.  Only last year, the satnav was introduced into UK driving tests, with learner drivers having to prove their ability to independently follow direction from navigational devices. This move seems to signal that the days of following a roadmap are over, with technology becoming a staple part of how we get from A to B.
With satnavs marking their claim as an essential part of driving, it’s only natural that we’ll soon see other technologies appearing inside our cars with their own unique benefits. Telematics is one particular area that has extended rapidly in recent years, with more people than ever electing to have their driving monitored by taking out telematics insurance policies. This means insurers can now check how safely we’re driving and price our insurance accordingly, as well as allowing us to be able to track our own driving. While telematics is still only optional, many car manufacturers have already begun to install similar monitoring devices into their products. This shows that telematics continues to grow – and soon may become a standard element of our driving.

Telematics isn’t the only area that appears to be increasing. In 2015, it was reported that sales of dashcams – cameras which film the road around you as you drive – had increased by 918% in just one year. Dashcams can also lead to insurance discounts with some insurers and some insurance companies will accept dashcam footage as part of a claim, making them potentially useful in establishing blame in an accident. This is perhaps why they’ve become so popular – might this be the next ‘legal’ requirement we see introduced into our cars?

Of course, technology can also have a bad effect on our driving – we all know too well the dangers of texting behind the wheel. However, new innovations may provide a solution for this as well. Artificial intelligence is an area that has picked up speed recently, with voice-recognition devices becoming commonplace in our homes. It’s likely that we’ll see this technology move into our cars before too long, meaning we can speak to our car whenever we want to respond to a text, catch up on the news or change a song – all while keeping our eyes on the road. As this technology continues to grow, it’s also plausible that these systems will be able to tell us when we’re driving dangerously or when there are risks ahead, making the driving experience safer.
It’s not just voice recognition that can help to keep our eyes on the road – there’s also been speculation about the use of technology on our windscreens. Augmented reality is currently reserved mainly for video games, but there’s already buzz around introducing this into our cars. This means important information currently stored on our dashboard – like petrol level and speed – could be shown electronically on our windscreens, leaving little excuse to be distracted on the road. Further to this, augmented reality could also aid our driving by virtually placing cornering line and braking distances onto the road for drivers to follow, making the road a safer place.

Whether or not you choose to equip your car with parking sensors or dashcams is up to you for now, but there’s no telling as to whether we’ll see some of these features become a requirement for all cars. Only one thing is for sure: the future of our driving will continue to adapt with technology in one way or another.

Photo by Serge Kutuzov on Unsplash

Posted on February 19, 2018

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