I’m a strong advocate for safety tech that helps us drive with more attention. There are so many distractions in the world today, that these safety features can help us focus on the road. (I even wrote a book about how to have focus and stay productive, although it was more about work than driving.) When we have these aids, it can help us drive with more confidence.
Case in point? The 2024 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Competizione is a prime example of how automakers are working overtime to make sure we have eyes on the road, not on our phones.
In a recent test, the car reminded me a couple of times to stay focused. The alert shows an icon of a coffee cup and encourages you to take a break. It works because it’s a visual and audible reminder that you are not paying attention enough. At that point you have two options — you can pull over and rest or you can pay attention to the road.
The tech works by monitoring things like how you are steering on the road. If you do any erratic steering, going from side to side or veering out of your lane, the car will know. The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Competizione can also monitor how long you’ve been driving, and alert you if there’s any sign of fatigue or erratic driving.
On one very long trip up north, the alert appeared not because I was driving strangely at all but simply because I had been driving for so long. I decided to do exactly what the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Competizione told me to do — I pulled over and took a break. Sadly, I have had to stop drinking coffee due to some health issues (even though I did pick up the habit for a recent coffeemaker test not long ago), but I did pull over to a gas station to buy snacks.
The problem with our world today is that distractions are everywhere, not just on our phones. On a drive to a remote office, I noticed how billboards are more numerous and engaging these days, and many of them are digital. They know how to get our attention. Because we live in a connected culture, everyone is constantly trying to get our attention — social media alerts, text messages, and phone calls seem to be increasing by the way. We are in constant contact.
Thankfully, the Stelvio does a good job of managing this problem but not to an annoying degree, During a week long test, I only saw the alert twice — once when I tried to trigger it by swaying back and forth slightly on an empty road near my house, and then again on that long drive. It wouldn’t work as well if the alert came up more often, since we’d just start ignoring it like a notification on our phones.
The icon is big and bold, and also red, but the chime also gets your attention, making you wonder for a split second if there’s something wrong with the car (The same thing happens every time I get an alert about cold weather in my BMW 3.) No, there is something wrong with you. The car is trying to remind you to stay focused and pay attention.
Ore and more cars have been adding this feature, but I was glad to see it in the Stelvio. Distractions are going to keep coming fast and furious, now we have a helpful aid to keep us on the road, paying attention, and not swerving around too much.