Digital Driving

The complicated cockpit of concorde in black and whiteWe have five computers in our house. Five. Bearing in mind there’s only three of us, which does include my four month old son, (his technical ability is yet to flourish, something which I’m sure in this age probably should have happened already. He hasn’t even written any javascript yet.) that’s 1.67 computers each.

Now I know a phone isn’t really considered a PC, but the processing power of Amanda’s relatively stone-age iPhone 3 still outweighs the intellect of my six year old laptop collecting dust upstairs. Not a journey goes by in the car where as a passenger Amanda isn’t “seeing what’s going on” in the world of Facebook, or Whatsapping her friends or spending Jasper’s inheritance on eBay, or saving Jasper’s inheritance on KJB deals.

I ride a motorbike as my main form of transport (thanks to my Uncle Dave, it’s now a nice Japanese 600, rather than a poorly Chinese 125). It has an analogue speedo and rev counter, when you change gear there is no servo assisted-ness, there is simply linkages that ensure when you kick down into first gear the bike excitedly jumps an inch. I recently took a hire car from work to Scotland and back, it was a VW Golf, it was new and shiny, and it’s dashboard wouldn’t have looked out of place in a 14 year old boy’s bedroom. There are lights, and buttons as far as the eye can see, there was a trip computer that could measure every conceivable metric I could wish for on my journey (although there wasn’t one to measure how much of my mental capacity is drawn away from actually driving the car).

We keep see instances appearing on the news when some spotty teenager was sending a tweet and crashed his car, regrettably sometimes into people; insurance companies now don’t want to touch you if you get caught with a phone clamped to your head, but my question is; how are we expecting the driving youth, which often is yet to gain a level of maturity to differentiate between their shiny phone and their shiny dashboard?

On my motorbike I have one thing to look at – the road. I ride the same route every day, and every day see a wealth of people sending emails, on Facebook, speaking on the phone and texting, all whilst in control of a lump of metal weighing in at two tonnes.

The term only human applies here, both to being struck by a car and to being able to operate a car and computer simultaneously. I have acquaintances that claim to be a better driver than most, I’ve got faster reactions they may say, often these are the worst because they don’t see how quickly a situation can change.

I was once in a car, when waiting to pull out of a junction the car in front pulled out into the path of a motorcycle. The fella leapt from his bike, let it smash into the car, tumbled down the road, then walked back to help the woman out of the car. Now that my friends is a quick reaction, being able to look up from your phone to avoid hitting the car is moronic.

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