I bought a car 18 months ago, and to me it’s still my new car. It will be another 3-4 years before I start think of it as a not so new car and likely a decade before I consider it “old.”
I tend to keep cars for a long time. My truck was 21 years old when I finally sent it to the salvage yard and my last car was 16 years old when I gave it to my grandson.
I adopt new things slowly.
Like the backup camera in my new car. It’s really cool, but I don’t use it much. There’s an audible alarm when another car or person gets close so I always know when it’s clear to backup. Then there are the lines on the screen that show where the car is going and how far you are from whatever is behind you. It’s a great system – you could just throw the car in reverse, look at the screen and know when it’s safe to move and exactly where you’re going.
Frankly, I don’t trust it. The screen is small and hard to see with my sunglasses on. I don’t drive at night much so I almost always have my sunglasses on. I’m farsighted and without my reading glasses on, some things in the car are a touch blurry. A few years ago I did get prescription sunglass so there is a reading bifocal, but I have to tilt my head at awkward angles to read anything through them. Using the backup camera becomes this strange dance of me moving my head around until I get the little screen in focus and remembering that the little chirping sound means to apply the brakes.
I’m convinced that car designers are young people with perfect vision and fast reflexes. If designers were half blind, almost deaf, slowly reacting people like me, the chirping noise would be heard 100 feet from the car and the camera screen would be three feet wide and would flip up from the car hood near the front bumper. Then, I’d be able to clearly see it.
Looking at the camera screen also reminds me of playing a video game. It feels a bit unreal and I’m not 100% sure that the image on the screen is really the scene behind my car so I often look at the screen and then out the window just to make sure the screen is showing what is really out there. I mean the car has like 50 microcomputers running things and how do I know for sure that these computers are really running in real time and not showing me something that happened five minutes ago? It could just be showing me some random test pattern for all I know.
I know that sounds strange, but I used to be a software engineer and I know how badly data streams can be delayed, mangled or otherwise corrupted. It can be a bit scary when I’m driving 65 mph down the highway.
Now, I’m not saying I don’t trust all the new fancy gadgets in my car, the adaptive cruise control and GPS stuff is really nice. So is the Apple CarPlay that lets me use voice commands make a phone call or read and send text messages.
The getting directions feature of CarPlay is useful and fun. One fun game I like to play with the car is to ask it for directions to someplace and then purposely go a different direction just so I can hear it trying to convince me to make a u-turn.
But that’s a different post.