Let's be realistic here. The skillset needed to drive has drastically changed over the past several decades.

Although we're still taught the same basics in driver's ed, the changes in laws and the way we drive have certainly gone a different direction. Some changed for the better, while others, did not so much.

And that couldn't be any truer than here in New Jersey. Although cars have made us safer, they've also made us less skilled.

This was made apparent by the recent Tesla recall which affected nearly all vehicles in the United States. It was an autopilot feature malfunction on the vehicles that led to the recall, many of which resulted in crashes.

You can read more about the recall by clicking/tapping here, but it highlights the point of how all of this technology is changing our skill level on the road.

Think about it. We used to never have these auto features on vehicles and we somehow still managed to drive on our highways.

Especially here in New Jersey, where focus on the road is critical to being safe. Before we look at some of those features that affect some of our skills today, let's go back in time to one major change that altered how we have to pay attention to our vehicles.

Manual transmission shifter

The shift of shifting

Something many young drivers will never have to experience. The days when manual transmissions were the norm.

Once automatics became more common, the need to be in tune with your vehicle wasn't as necessary anymore. Once automatic shifting was in place, we never had to think about what gears we had to shift into for our vehicles to keep them moving.

Now with CVT, or continually variable transmissions, the concept of how gears even work is slowly beginning to disappear completely.

Bright headlights in rear view
Mike Brant - TSM (Canva)

Headlight knowledge

Manual transmissions still exist in the US today but are very rare. Jump forward to today, and we now see so many other features that are joining that automatic bandwagon thanks to technology.

Headlights are among one of those features. A pro with automatic headlights is the fact that you don't have to think about them.

But that's also the negative in the fact that you don't have to think about it. You're fully relying on the vehicle to manage the lights for you, which can be problematic.

Especially with automatic high beams. All too often we blind others and have no knowledge the high beams are even on, or if we even need them at that moment.

Reverse vehicle camera

Over the shoulder

Here's another one that's changing our skill of driving. The backup camera is now required to be in most new vehicles.

The pros of having a backup camera are huge. They allow you to see anyone who might get in the way and into your blind zone behind the vehicle while reversing.

So nobody's arguing those cameras are a bad thing because they're not. However, some New Jersey drivers over-rely on that technology and forget how to properly look over their shoulders when going in reverse.

Should a backup camera malfunction, the driver might be clueless as to what they should do to check their surroundings. It's a great safety feature, but also one that dumbs us down a bit behind the wheel.

Speedometer / Vehicle / Dash / Steering wheel

Auto Everything

The biggest feature that changes our skillset is the automatic features that are designed to keep us safer while moving. Very much like the one that's part of the nationwide Tesla recall.

Again, automatic driving features are amazing. Things such as lane assist and automatic braking are all features that can make our roads a lot safer, while at the same time making us less safe with our skills.

Especially with new drivers who might be over-reliant on today's vehicle technology. Some New Jersey drivers aren't as skilled behind the wheel as they used to be, and that's unfortunate.

This massive Tesla recall should be a wake-up call for all drivers. Computers fail, and we need to keep those driving skills sharp so we know how to take back control.

A look back at the NJ Garden State Parkway token

A nostalgic token of NJ history dating back to the 1980's.

Gallery Credit: Mike Brant

Missed your exit? A message for those who go in reverse

For those New Jersey drivers who back up after passing their exit, please listen up.

Gallery Credit: Mike Brant

The above post reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 Sunday morning host Mike Brant. Any opinions expressed are his own.

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