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July 14th, 2018 by admin

SIMON WALKER: Learning to press the right buttons

Modern cars bring with them new things to press on the steering wheel.
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So many buttons controlling so many things.

The radio, the CD, the air con, your life etc.

These were the things that, traditionally, the person in the front passenger seatgot to fiddle with on the dashwhile you were driving.

And it was pretty benign in terms of mortal risk.

Sure, it could be annoying.

Particularly if the fiddlerchanged the radio station you wanted to listen to back to the station they preferred –2BAD FM.

But what could you do? You were driving, they were fiddling.That’s just how it was.

Not anymore.The modern steeringwheel gives the drivercontrol over not only the radio station but the entire universe.

Which is what your car is when you’re a passenger.

The radio station selected by the fiddler is usually crap anyhow, so the driver says. And the driver isdoing the cabin a favour by moving it to theirsuperior selection, with one flick oftheir new steering wheel button.

Or so the argument goes.

if you don’t happen to be driving and it’s your station that’s been hooked,it’s difficult knowing what to do next.

Reflect humbly on how annoying you’ve been in the past, or punch the dashboard radio in retaliation.

You wouldn’t want to distract the newly empowered driver anymore than they already are.

Because they are spending a lot of time looking at the steering wheel for the button to change the radio station back, and not looking at the road.

Which is OK, because by this stage you’re probably not looking at the road either.

You’re looking at oncoming traffic, or a light pole, and exclaiming words like “Deeaattttttttttttthhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!”.

It lightens the mood when death slides by, yet again, otherwise there might be recriminations.About what radio station you’relistening to.

I know this because we recently got a new motor and the steering wheel is a little bit like a Play Station handset.

The trouble is, we never had Play Station in our house.

So learning how all those buttons work islike being bad at Play Station, only moving on a real road, whereyou don’t get 10 lives if you stack it.

You do get the hang of it, if you don’t collide with anything.

But you shouldn’t take that for granted.

The modern steering wheel now gives the person lumped with the responsibility of driving us somewhere, on time, every time (not dead on arrivaletc)more ways to achieve that last bit in brackets.

I don’tthink the car companies came up with the modern steering wheel for this reason

They probably thought they were doing the world a favour by disabling the fiddler, who formerly ruled the radio, CD, window wipers, air con etc.

But like any sort of challenge, there is a learning curve – mainly for the passengers.

They quickly learn that all those buttons on the steering wheel are taking the driver’s mind offthe road.

And the car seems to be following.

I know this because we recently took a run up the coast in the new motor and it was decided it would be a good time tolearnhow the cruise control button works.

And it works like this: you press the button and then youscramble for the glove box to get the manual to find out how to unpress it,because the car starts doing things that seem beyond the driver’s intention.

Like speed up.And then down.

In line with the driver’s fingertips, who only realised after a couple of screams that she wasn’t changing the radio, she was setting us on warp speed in an 80 zone.

It’sactually quite alarming when the traffic won’t drive in time to your cruise control.

A bit Space Odyssey without the epic soundtrack.

You tend to get lulled into a state of half-consciousness when you’ve got the car going 110kmh, but the P-Plater in front is doing their legally constricting 90kmh, and there’s oncoming traffic and you don’t have a missile launcher.

“Does not compute” is the subconscious message coming from the brain.

But the foot, that for so long used to work the accelerator, is now sulking next tothe brake, bemoaning the cruise control button on the modern steering wheel.

Talk about demarcation.

Good thing the hands free phone went off at that moment with a call from the daughter in the back seat ringing in to suggest conventional braking would be a good idea at this moment.

And with that, the fiddler changed the radio station to Spotify via the aux cord–talk about pressing my buttons.