Gerardo Cammarata of Classic Car Hunter SA feels that modern cars have taken too much away from the joys of driving, as he explains in his latest column Modern Cars Remove Driving Skills. You can read his first column on classic cars by clicking here.
Remember the days when driving a car required a lot of acquired skill? You had to learn how to pull off in 1st gear, balancing the accelerator and clutch pedals just right so that you would not stall or wheelspin off a dead stop? Remember nailing the perfect launch while your mate was over-eager and soon in your rear-view mirror in a cloud of smoke?
You not only had to concentrate on the road ahead but also changing gears once you were on the move. You had to be careful to engage 4th instead of 2nd on a downshift. You also had to downshift before a bend or an uphill and to smoothly use the brakes and clutch when coming to a stop?
Well, if you learned how to drive anywhere from the late 2000s onwards, chances are that you didn’t learn on an old school manual car. As semi-automatic, automatic and double-clutch transmissions gradually become more popular the manual gearbox, so loved by people that experienced its heyday, is fast fading into the sunset.
And it didn’t stop with the manual gearbox. The whole experience of driving an older car taught one how to drive well. Before manufacturers became obsessed with NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) and with building obese, almost self-driving machines, cars felt like living organisms to drive. You could feel the camber of the road through the steering, while a lack of insulation taught one how to distinguish between various road surfaces by ear and through your rear end.
In short, your interaction with an automobile was, in a way, similar to an interaction with a living being. Similar to being in an enclosure with a tiger, if you became too complacent, it could very well bite. Mutual respect between man and machine taught one how to handle different road situations and, ultimately, taught you how to handle these situations through instinct. Those automobiles created better drivers.
Fast forward to teenagers today who are learning to drive in cars so detached from the environment that they almost want to drive themselves. Countless electronic safety nets, electric steering, electronic brakes, automatic gearboxes and so much insulation from the outside world, that engine sounds need to be played through the speakers to be heard, are creating a generation of drivers that could very well drive a car successfully if they learned to drive on a gaming console/simulator.
The problem arises when said drivers push a car beyond the limits of the electronic safety nets (remember, you cannot bend the laws of physics – Ed) where actual driving skill is required, then things may go pear shaped. As we move closer to an era where the preferred mode of transport will be battery powered, driving skills might prove irrelevant. But even in an electric car, unless self driving, a measure of skill will be required once it is pushed beyond its safe limits.
A skill lost
I feel rather sad that the current generation of drivers-to-be will, mostly, be denied the experience of driving an analogue automobile. As challenging as it was, it created skilled drivers, and once the art was mastered it was one of life’s most rewarding experiences.
I consider nothing more rewarding than finding my rhythm behind the wheel of a car with a high revving naturally aspirated engine coupled with a manual ’box. Newer, turbocharged, automatic and overweight cars might ultimately be much faster, but the reward you experience when driving them is not even a shadow of what we grew up experiencing in older cars.
I believe that today’s youngsters should still learn to drive in an analogue vehicle. It might mean the difference between a close shave and an accident somewhere along their lives which can involve even dead and a prosecution for which you may need to hire criminal lawyers.
W hen you get into a car accident, there are certain steps you may want to take in order to help make sure everyone is safe, to follow the law and to get the insurance claim process started.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the following steps may help guide you through important decisions you need to make if you’ve been in a car accident, whether you were at fault for the accident or not.