Outdoor 4x4-Dumbing Down

Posted on Jul 16, 2016 by Administrator

Outdoor 4x4-Dumbing Down

“Dumbing Down” is a phrase becoming very commonly used these days in automotive circles world over. It refers to the practice of making something very easy to do, so that even the least skilled of us can manage it.

More and more vehicles today, especially SUVs, come with all sorts of driving aids such as “Hill Decent Control (HDC)”, “Climb Assist”, “Traction Control”, etc. With the help of these gizmos just about anybody can now drive a vehicle through the toughest of terrains with relative ease. But, does this make such drivers equally skilled as those who can perform the same tasks without the aids? In my opinion, I fear not.

Many years ago, when my friends and I joined the wage earning masses of the world, the first thing we did (motoring related that is) was to pool enough cash to purchase a 60’s good ole Land Rover. This was a raw basic 4x4 (not SUV) and performed its chosen duties faithfully. However, a great deal of driver skill was required to optimize the capabilities of the vehicle.

Going down to the local quarries, marshlands, dry riverbeds, performing steep climbs, etc and learning the art of getting the vehicle to over come Mother Nature was an awesome experience. Furthermore, it was a learning curve, which gave my friends and me the experience to overcome just about any obstacle in any 4x4 vehicle purely out of the skills we gained through the years. 

However, today none of the above is needed. A basic understanding of what “off roading” is all about and what electronic gadgets are at your disposal is all that is required.  

I strongly feel that if you are a true driving enthusiast, then the only way to develop your skills is the old fashioned way, where you have only yourself and your expertise to count on. 

Some could argue and ask why the fuss, when all this technology is available today and all we have to do is use it. Well true and I for one is all in favour of technological advancements. But depending on technology makes us dumb and dumber.   

Ever noticed how these days kids need a calculator to do simple additions? How awful people’s handwriting is, just because all their writing is done using a word processor? And spelling for that matter as well. 

In a recent off road excursion, one of my friends’ mega buck SUV’s on board computer (for reasons beyond our comprehension) decided that traction control was not needed when he tried to climb out of a dry river. Whilst older vehicles with no such gadgets made the climb to the riverbank with ease, my friend had to endure the embarrassment of having to make multiple attempts before he could finally get out.

Now I know my friend very well, as he was one of the “stake holders” in the 60’s Landy I mentioned earlier and his skills comes unquestioned. But the lack of an electronic over ride made it impossible for him to simply apply those skills and get out of the situation.

Whilst I encourage the need to develop technology further and further, I also dearly hope that these advancements will not rob us of our ability to learn and become masters.


Happy motoring everyone.

Author -Duncan Udawatta, 

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