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Keep Calm and Learn About your Car

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In recent years, different safety devices such as blind spot detectors, autonomous emergency braking or parking sensors have been incorporated into vehicles, but the amount of information they provide and the number of systems that must be kept under control can also create an increase in the level of distraction whilst driving, especially when there is a lack of real understanding as to what each of the alerts and warnings may display.

There are many systems that help make driving safer. Most of them hide behind names and acronyms that not everyone understands. Systems like ABS, ESP, BAS, traction control or blind spot control are part of the elements that, little by little, have made their way in modern cars.

A recent study by RACE and Castrol revealed that the lack of knowledge about the operation of these technologies can have a negative effect on driving, as 6% of drivers become frightened by these systems, some 13% become stressed, and 25% report being distracted.

It is necessary to know the operation of each system to avoid that apprehensive feeling and anxiety caused by the use of technology that generates a continuous tension in the conduction known as ‘technological stress’. A cars cockpit has become less like a wheel and a few levers, and more like that of the Space Shuttle in recent years, and pilots are trained extensively in the use of their complex systems, a driver has to rely on a manual at best, assuming the driver actually bothers to read it of course.

That is the real solution however, read the manual, search You Tube, search the internet, and train yourself for every device on your vehicle. Do so before you take to the road, practice and prepare for the eventualities that might present themselves.

Also, according to RACC studies, ignorance or overconfidence in technology directly influence driving. Thus, if the system alerts the driver when exceeding the speed limit but the control is automatic, the driver can forget about the accelerator and cause excessive relaxation on fast roads.

For its part, Spanish and German researchers have developed a system that analyses the behaviour of the driver, and, based on the data collected (speed, changes of gear, acceleration, etc), makes a series of recommendations in real time, according to the Confederation National Driving School (CNAE).

What happens in the mind?

This stress caused by the technologies in the vehicle directly affects our psychophysical state. According to Luis Montoro, president of the Spanish Foundation for Road Safety, Fundación Española para la Seguridad Vial (FESVIAL), stress is a general process of adaptation to the environment whose problems appear when their level is very intense and is maintained for a long time. If the adaptation to this medium, in this case the technologies behind the wheel, is permanent, the mind cannot rest and, consequently, the body will perform negative actions.

Health and driving concentration have to be compatible to drive safely. With the changing mode of information and the constant advancement of telecommunications, it seems that you can never keep up with technological developments. According to Antonio Cano Vindel, president of the Spanish Society for the Study of Anxiety and Stress, driving stress depends on the level of knowledge. While learning to drive, a level of disturbance is generated and it has an impact on an emotion associated with stress, which is anxiety.

The amount of data that the driver can visualize and take into account while driving can fatigue you and, even worse, distract your attention by taking care of other data and taking your eyes off the road. Driving requires a level of concentration appropriate to the circumstances and any type of distraction can cause a road error with fatal consequences.

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