Commentary: Sometimes, older is better

Newer vehicles mean an abundance of newer worries

Harriet Cuthbert

A recent, horrific tragedy prompted me to write this column.

A retired couple in their 80s, former academics from Massachusetts, purchased a new car that had automatic keyless entry, which meant they could start their engine before entering their car. Conversely, they could exit the car and then turn the engine off.

One day, this couple parked in their garage, entered their house and, tragically, both forgot to turn off the engine. As a result, carbon monoxide seeped gradually into their home, which was tightly sealed to improve the efficiency of their air conditioning system. Thus, they were dealt a fatal blow.

If only they had had an older car, with a standard on-off ignition that required a key. This disaster could have been averted.

I have two older cars and I plan to keep them. Easy to operate; no new dangers to think about; just the act of driving from here to there. I often mention to my mechanic that if I did break down (no pun intended) and “go modern” with a new car purchase, I would need to take classes to learn how to operate the vehicle.

And, let us not forget, I would have to give up my trusty and excellent CD player and learn to program all my favorite Sinatra songs into the new sound system.

What about the new backing-up reminder? I think it is supposed to tell me if I am about to hit the car behind me when I am trying to park. I think I can figure that out myself from about 40+ years of driving and parking.

Air bags? Let me see: How many times have I read about their opening and slamming into the driver and human passengers, the ones they were meant to protect? I might have air bags in my cars, but I pray I will never have to find out how they work.

I will not introduce the issue of texting while driving, because it is not really connected to the features of newer cars, only to the newer drivers.

And, please do not get me started on driverless vehicles.

I am sure I sound “old and dated,” but I honestly believe that sometimes, older really is better — and safer, too.