Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Speaking of Traffic, Sort Of

One of the fun things about having ZipCar as your vehicle is the opportunity to drive a wide variety of automobiles, some of which give you the chance to try out newfangled gadgetry like the rear view camera in the Honda CR-V I drove today.

In case you haven't seen it, this is a little panel in the dashboard which, when you put the car into Reverse, displays a view of what's behind you. In full color, no less, with lines superimposed to indicate exactly where you'll end up if you slam on the gas and back up right then.

It's cool, but also a little weird. I found myself alternately watching the panel, and looking over my shoulder, the way we did back when I learned to drive.

I suppose practically speaking there's no need to look over the shoulder anymore, since the camera can see a lot more than I can through the back window, but it just felt wrong, somehow, to be backing up without glancing behind me.

Even though, in fact, I might actually be worse off by looking, since I could back over a small object that wouldn't be visible in the back window, but would show up in the camera view. When technology presents an improved way of doing things that is opposite to the habitual way of doing things, it feels a little awkward at first.

In fact, it was a bit like a video game, maneuvering around while looking at a screen, and I'm all for video games, but again, it felt a little wrong to be playing one while driving.

I'd probably get used to it, if I drove more. In a vehicle that had that particular gadgetry.

On a mostly unrelated note, I kind of miss hood ornaments. The style of cars these days is to have the hood slope way down, so you can't actually see where the front of the car is. I can never tell how close I am to hitting the wall of the garage. Now a nice hood ornament gives you a point of reference, like a flag planted at the border of the car's sovereign territory, that says "here be the boundary!"

I want a flag, darn it.

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