There’s a rather strange phenomenon at play right now in the UK; we continuously value vanity over security, especially when it comes to life behind the wheel. People drive around in cars featuring the latest back massage technology, with speakers that allow you to blast your favourite ABBA songs down the local high-street. And yet, most of us have no idea how safe our cars are before we buckle our kids into the backseat.
This week, we were invited by our lovely clients at AA Tyres to see first-hand, the efforts of car manufacturers to simplify and safeguard the lives of those behind the wheel. The event was hosted by Continental Tyres, a company that have brought German innovation to the UK over the years. Continental have recently joined the multinational efforts of Vision Zero, a campaign to end the consumer obsession with gimmicks and shift focus to our own safety.
Vision Zero has a straightforward goal; 1,810 people were killed on UK roads last and 23,350 people were seriously injured. Continental, and many automotive suppliers, wish to bring that figure down.
The venue for this event was hallowed ground, for it was the filming location for the holy grail BBC programme Top Gear (which I have never seen, much to the horror and bemusement of my peers). Sadly, I didn’t have The Stig chauffeuring me around, instead I had Flora from Team Rhizome, who got stuck into the driving as much as Jeremy Clarkson gets stuck into a BBC producer.
I think it’s fair to say that I’ve grown up around technological advancement. I can remember when the only luxury a mobile phone had was if it had games pre-installed (R.I.P Snake). Millennials have seen this evolution and can often find themselves unfazed by the latest release. That was until I witnessed a car parking itself at the touch of a button. Now, I can’t decide whether a self-driving car is the pinnacle of technological achievement or the laziest invention to ever grace the automobile industry? Having said that… a car that can parallel park by itself? TAKE MY MONEY!
We also had the pleasure of being bundled into a car with blacked out windows, only to discover that exterior cameras are now so advanced that they allow you to drive a car without even looking out the windows. As it turned out, this was a motion sickness-inducing activity which saw a few event goers sit out of the demonstrations which followed. The event went without a hitch and it was interesting to learn about the latest technology designed to keep you and your loved ones’ safe.
One thing I couldn’t help but wonder though was whether or not the automotive industry will ever be able to make their safety features as exciting as an in-built iPad charger. Will locker room banter ever have lads bragging about the size of their… ABS system? Unlikely, but one thing is for certain, these latest developments in technology will see our lives made safer and easier. I wait with bated breath, what inventions are around the corner.
Words by Tom Garcia-Bridgeman