I think that most people have something that they’re really passionate about. And mine is cars. I work with them. I drive them. I covet them. I get excited about seeing each wave of new releases, and every one of the tweaked features. I’ve been known to say things like, “Wow, I love the new gearstick design!” and in tones of tragedy; “Oh no, why did they get rid of the cupholder?” So, as a driving enthusiast, you might think that I’m sceptical about the move towards lazy driving. Automatic braking? Assisted parking? Spontaneous headlight adjustment? Bring it on!
You see, the so-called ‘lazy driving’ movement has many motivators, and while we all love a bit of gadgetry for gadgetry’s sake (well, I do, anyway), most of lazy driving is to do with ease, convenience and safety.
By 2010, there were already more than 1 billion cars on the planet and that number has continued to grow – as have our expectations of what they can do. While some people still take pride in the maintenance of their vehicles, merrily topping up the oil as they buff and polish the bodywork every weekend, a growing number of us don’t want to get our hands dirty popping the bonnet and refilling the water, even assuming that we know how to do that. We’d rather not have to check our tyre pressure, put in de-icer or change the oil (that’s what mechanics are for!). Heck, some of us don’t even want to actually drive the things, enthusiastically checking the progress of the development of the self-driving car at every opportunity. So, yes, that could be called ‘lazy’, but the adaptations and developments being made to accommodate that, are pure genius, and if people don’t know how to maintain their cars, then it’s surely safer to take that element away. It’s one of the reasons I welcome the electric vehicle as the car of the future.
I read, the other day, about a proposal to create a ‘superfast’ charging network for electric vehicles. In 2017 the UK installed 2,833 regular electric vehicle charging points, ranking us joint third on an index charting the countries best prepared to welcome electric. This new network would mean that cars could be charged in just 5-12 minutes, making the UK leaders in the field and removing the major objection that most people have to ditching the diesel and petrol.
The thing is, that while most people know the environmental benefits of switching, few appreciate the beauty of electric from the lazy driver perspective: There is no oil to check and change; they need no water; there are no spark plugs, wires, timing belts, or other moving parts that have an expensive tendency to go wrong. In fact, the electric motor only has one moving part – the shaft – and that’s incredibly reliable. Not only is this of benefit to the lazy driver, but also the frugal; maintenance costs plummet. And because of this, and the reduced likelihood of the cars going wrong, they better maintain their value than their petrol and diesel peers. Then – as if you needed more – there are all the things I mentioned at the beginning; assisted parking (I mean, really, who doesn’t want that?); automatic headlight control; and intelligent braking, which has to be one of the best safety features available.
In my view, lazy driving is more about evolution than anything else. It’s about seeing problems and fixing them.
Would I be happier if all inexperienced drivers had cars that automatically braked upon detecting dangerous situations? Yes, I would. And I’d say the same for older drivers with reduced reaction speeds.
Would nervous drivers be happier in cars that could park themselves? Undoubtedly. Not because they shouldn’t have to learn how to park, but because sometimes it’s just easier. Parking with an audience can be stressful at the best of times and it’s when you feel under additional pressure that accidents happen.
As for lower maintenance cars, well, the less you have to do with a vehicle the less there is to go wrong.
So, the question I put to you is this: are we becoming a generation of lazy drivers, or are we becoming safer drivers? When we’re talking about adapting our vehicles for optimum hassle-free performance, I’d say that lazy driving is no bad thing.
Debbie Kirkley is co-founder at OSV Ltd.