Gone are the days when the driver required all the skills and capabilities it takes to get a vehicle moving. In the days of manual cars (MT), the driver had to tussle it out with the gear lever, the clutch pedal, the accelerator pedal as well as the steering wheel; notwithstanding the side mirrors and driving mirrors that came with driving.
Now days, the tasks of driving are getting easier and easier to the extent that, a one handed person may easily and effortlessly drive a vehicle. Take for example that AT (automatic transmission vehicles, all you need is a single leg and single hand to operate them as opposed to the MT that sometimes required both legs and hands. I was having a ride with my dad many years ago when he decided to pull in to a kiosk and bought some huge Coca-Cola Sodas, he was driving one of those 1950’s model vehicles and, believe it or not, its designers had made no provision for the securing of an open drink. The driver of such a vehicle would have had no choice but emptying the drinks fast or driving with the contents spilling or otherwise!
I have never thought of a way of multi-tasking in an old vehicle as it would not work out. You see, old vehicles required several things of their drivers. The first was a certain level of skill. Old designs were quite unforgiving and if the clutch and shift were not played just right, a terrible grinding noise would issue forth from below the floorboards as agonized gears chipped and lost their teeth. A moment’s distraction from steering could also prove troublesome, for when one glanced forward once more, the vehicle would have altered its direction of travel and would be heading for the bushes or, worse, oncoming traffic. A panicked correction would start a process of zigzag twists in random direction of travel unassisted by the human operator and from which few options existed save for the slamming on the rather inefficient braking systems.
In many cases, the application of emergency braking to an old mechanical or early hydraulic system would result in the immediate failure of that system followed by a freewheeling path to another braking system such as a tree, ditch or fence line. Old vehicles were actually not tolerant to driver mistakes; not wanting to end up with a face against front windshield as a passenger retention device planned ahead. Drivers paid attention to oncoming traffic and expected and received warning of things such as turns and lane changes from the cars around them, in return, they signalled others their intentions by also signalling and planning their vehicular movements.
Anyone who flouted these simple precautions ended up a victim, and even small accidents in an old car were quite serious. Pre-war cars literally fell to pieces in an impact, while the post-war cars stayed more intact but their occupants fell to pieces, ripped to small insignificant bits by the wonderful chrome tr im, radio knobs and stainless steel decorations on their metal dashboards.
The modern driver has no such worries. Modern cars do so many things for us we can drive them without any level of measurable skill. In fact, we do not really need to spend much time thinking about things other than how to change the colour of the radio display on the multiplex TV/GPS/inertial guidance/satellite-assisted restaurant reservation system.
There is no longer any need to signal turns or lane changes. Let’s face it, the massive effort to move the signal lever is just plain irksome and can seriously affect your flouting of the anti-texting, anti-phoning, anti-makeup-applying, anti-coffee-sucking-breakfast-eating laws, thus spoiling your commute. We now boast of built in phones, navigation systems, cruise controls, automatic gear etc. Besides, the cars around you all have anti-lock brakes, computers that modify emergency lane changes, handling and support systems and warning lights in their rear-view mirrors and air bags. Most signs, such as stop signs and red lights, are at best just advisory or at least a cunning method of extorting money for the coffers of the local town council. Given how easy our modern cars are to drive and how they do so much for us, there really is no needs to learn how to drive.