motormouth | bob weber

We have never received more e-mails and letters than to our reply last month to C.P. of Elmhurst, Ill., who stated that "high-tech features are a crock; keyless entry and start buttons — wow, seniors do not want this crap."

Perhaps the humor was lost on the many readers who took us to task for snarkiness when we asked, "How far should we regress? Should we eliminate safety glass, air bags or seatbelts? Maybe we could revert to the horse and buggy days when emissions could be scooped up and spread on the garden."

Other readers told us we made a good point. To wit, the edited letter below sums up what we were trying to say, but in a more succinct manner.

"I couldn't agree more with your article. I need all the help I can get.

"I am nearing 70, (my) wife 69. I am a retired airline pilot, having flown everything from the DC-10 through the Boeing 737, 757, 767 and the elegant 777.

"Part of the reason modern air travel is safer is because of systems protecting us from ourselves and optimized to perform, in many cases, better than a human. In cars, anti-lock braking systems are similar to what we have on jetliners called 'anti-skid.' I cannot imagine ever driving a car again without ABS, knowing how these systems optimize braking and control.

"In October, my 30-year-old daughter, after a 10-hour night shift at work, fell asleep at the wheel of her car and drifted into the guardrail, smashing the left front fender and bumper, causing $2,500 in damage. She wasn't hurt. Would the lane drift technology with some gentle steering input have avoided this? I tend to think so. Have I ever drifted out of my lane? You bet.

"I dread backing out of supermarket or mall parking lots. I know many feel the same way so they pull ahead to the next slot so they can simply drive forward and out. Some folks drive too fast in parking lots. Will rear crossing-traffic alerts help make this safer? Trust me. It will.

"I'll bet every complaining driver who wrote you has had, at least once in their driving history, the blind spot shock when changing lanes. Why wouldn't you want that help?

"I recently purchased a 2017 Toyota Prius. The basic Prius Two has minimal safety alerts. The "rugged individualists" complainers can have that.

"To get the blind spot and rear crossing alert you have to get the Prius Four, which is about $4,500 more. We have the Four. On Day 1, I had a couple of lane drift alerts and two rear crossing traffic alerts in a grocery parking lot, and we hadn't even started moving.

"Consumer Reports wrote an article about these safety features last year. They are going to more heavily weight the ratings for manufacturers and models with standard equipment that gets the most safety alert systems.

"I cannot afford to buy my daughter a new Prius Four. But after her crash we sure decided we wanted these features in our cars.

"Keep up the great articles and Q-and-A."

J.M., Allentown, Pa.

Bob Weber is a writer and mechanic who became an ASE-certified Master Automobile Technician in 1976. He maintains this status by seeking certification every five years. Weber's work appears in professional trade magazines and other consumer publications. His writing also appears in automotive trade publications, Consumer Guide and Consumers Digest. Send automotive questions along with name and town to