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Warning Signs I’d Like To See On The Dashboard

Modern cars and even not-so-modern cars have warning signs on the dashboard that light up like Christmas trees at the slightest provocation.  However, unlike Christmas trees or fairy lights, the emotion experienced when one sees a dashboard warning light twinkling away isn’t one of joy but more like one of “Oh, heck!” to put it politely.

There seems to be warning signs for just about anything these days, which is why a few new cars use head-up displays for displaying the really important stuff.  Some of the warning signs monitor you, rather than the car, such as the tiredness recognition system in some new Mercedes models. These apparently look at your facial expression and behaviour and can use some fancy algorithm to figure out if you are getting sleepy.  The larrikin in me would probably want to mess with one of these systems by pulling faces at the camera, or seeing if I could fake tiredness well enough to fool the system (a challenge for any would-be actor or actress).

However, there are probably a few more warning lights or systems that could be handy to have amid the myriad of other ones. I daresay that someone somewhere has already thought of these, and has possibly created an app for them that will use your phone to talk to a car’s display system.

Seatbelt warning light 2.0. Yes, I know these already exist and have been around for a wee while.  However, most of them just say that the driver doesn’t have his/her seat belt plugged in properly. However, the EU is requiring new cars from this year forward to have warning lights and sounds for the front passenger seat and possibly for rear seats as well, although rear seats only get a beep and/or light if the buckle is undone while travelling.  I can understand the need for the “buckle undone during travel” trigger, as I’m not the only person who’s put a load on the back seat, and the big bag of dog biscuits, the hefty haul of library books and/or the groceries probably weigh as much as a small child.  What I’d like to see in these new and improved warning light systems, speaking from experience as a parent, is a system that lets the driver know WHICH seatbelt is undone, especially in an MPV, to avoid the “OK, which one of you has undone their seatbelt?” “It’s not me, Mum; it’s Jessica!” “Tis not!” arguments.

Cabin air quality sensors.  This wouldn’t be so much a warning light as a system. It’s no fun to be stuck in a car with a passenger who has had a meal of beans, onions and eggs with helping of some nice healthy brassica on the side, if you get my drift.  A flatulent dog in the luggage compartment of a station wagon or even a hatchback can be bad enough to cause a distraction when you’re driving.  In my dreams, this sensor and system would detect when the methane or sulphurous compounds in the air cabin reach a critical level, and would then open the vents a bit wider and get that smell out of there.  A warning light would probably be needed so that you don’t wonder what the heck has gone wrong with the climate control system.

Toilet reminder. Related to the previous one, I’m surely not the only person who’s been a passenger on a long car journey who’s politely and quietly asked the driver to stop at the next handy public convenience or large bush, depending on the location, only to have the driver completely forget about it and keep on driving straight past one, leaving you in desperation. You don’t want to sound like a whiny little kid going “I need to pee!” every two minutes but being forced to hang on for far too long isn’t brilliant for the plumbing.  If a system can detect that the driver is getting sleepy, it can detect that the passenger (or the driver) is fidgeting about in the seat, jiggling and all those other strategies that we use once we’ve grown out of wetting our pants – and it can take over the job of reminding the driver that somebody is in desperate need of the loo.  Or the passenger can activate the warning system so it can do the embarrassing job of reminding the driver.  Perhaps this system could work in with the GPS to give directions to the nearest convenience.

Passenger G-force calculator: Another rather irritating habit of drivers, from the passengers’ perspective, is to barrel around corners quite fast.  Yes, the car can handle it and is designed to do this.  However, as more than one passenger has grumbled, the driver has the steering wheel to hold onto and can anticipate all the upcoming G-forces involved in a corner.  A passenger often gets taken unawares and may not be ready for that fast corner, with spilled coffee being the result some of the time.  And if we had two other siblings, we probably all remember the game of Squash The Person In The Middle When Cornering on the back seat during trips along winding country roads.  If a car can detect that there’s a passenger in the front seat, then it should be able to work out whether he or she will get thrown about during fast cornering and remind the driver of this, or possibly work in with the suspension or even seat positioning to minimise the passenger getting chucked about as much.

I’m sure there could be others invented.  What are some that you’d like to have?

 

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