A driver checks his cell phone on 35th Street in...

A driver checks his cell phone on 35th Street in Manhattan. Credit: R.J. Mickelson, 2008

When I began driving in 1956, the only gadget we had was a radio and we never had an accident using it. You were totally responsible for what the car did.

Now with the proliferation of gadgets, the driver has relinquished those duties to the car. Today's cars let you ignore what's behind you and rely on a backup alarm. No need to check your mirrors because the car warns you of other cars when you change lanes. No need to concentrate on driving because the brakes are applied if you get too close to the car ahead.

Don't bother learning to back up or parallel park, some cars will park for you. Rely on a GPS because reading a map is out of date. And there's the biggest killer, the cell phone, which has grown from a useful emergency device to a useless chatter toy that disengages your mind while you drive ["Hands off! Newsday rides along on cell-phone patrol . . .," News, Feb. 17]. The latest useless gadget, which can kill or mentally cripple you with carbon-monoxide poisoning, is the remote starter. Keep your car in the garage and start it to warm it up. Even better, no need to turn off the key with remote start, just forget to turn off the car and leave it running in the garage with the doors closed.

There are probably many other distractions you can't control, like noisy kids, barking dogs, outside sounds, etc. The useless gadgets that take over and relieve us of our responsibility of driving with total attention surely can be avoided.

Richard Nicewicz, West Babylon

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