No antilock braking systems (ABS), no electronic stability programs (ESP), and no torque-sensing limited slip differential (LSD) or dynamic stability and traction control system (DSTC). That’s what four volunteers in England faced in a 1990 BMW 3 series (pictured) to demonstrate how such technologies have affected modern drivers, many of whom take such technologies for granted and may be unaware of what they do. What researchers learned was very interesting... In the first test, the volunteers, pretending to be in a three-lane motorway, braked on command and swerved to avoid a stationary object (i.e., a traffic cone.) Water was added to the ground to further reduce grip. The result? The BMW’s wheels locked without ABS and the drivers barreled into the cone. And during the simple slalom test, everyone swung to and fro while weaving through the five cones at a snail’s pace. One volunteer tried to drive the slalom course at what would have been a comfortable speed in his LSD-equipped Impreza and spun out. “The BMW was completely raw,” said the Impreza owner after the test. “It was impossible to keep in line. It was like driving a bus.”
After four hours of such testing, the volunteers and the test staff were surprised how dependent on modern technologies everyone had become, losing skills such as “braking cadence” once taught to drivers. “This test also showed how far car design has come,” said Graham Griffiths of the Ultimate Car Control, an advanced driver training school. "Modern cars not only have stability and traction control, they also have better tires, better suspension and overall dynamics. Technology has moved on and drivers have been left behind.”


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