The ongoing pandemic has led the government and our healthcare authorities to impose what could be the longest home quarantine in recent memory. Since March 2020, the varying degrees of lockdowns have kept us in our homes (well, most of the time, anyway) for 19 months and counting.

For the elderly, in particular, the extended stay-at-home protocols have weighed on them most heavily. Throughout this time, the 65-year-olds and up have been advised by authorities to stay home, no matter what, unless it would be absolutely essential for them to do otherwise.

A few days ago, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) announced it would be easing its guidelines, and said that effective Oct. 1, citizens above 65, as well as those below 18, would now be allowed to go outdoors to exercise, but would still be limited to their general area of residence.
This bit of news was very much welcomed by my 82-year-old Dad, who had slowly been inching into a sedentary lifestyle. I would often scold my dad to exercise more even if he was confined at home.

Riled by my admonishment, my Dad once retorted, “If you want me to exercise, let me out of the house and drive my van!”

Last week, after Isuzu Philippines Corp officially introduced the all-new Isuzu mu-X 7-seater SUV, I was given the keys for a weekend spin.

As soon as my dad saw the handsome 2022 mu-X 3.0 4×2 LS SUV being parked in our garage, he only had one thing in his mind.

I told him promptly. “No need to tell me, Papa. Let’s go out and survey the area you’ll be exercising in starting this October.”

“What, I don’t get to drive that? Let me remind you that I still have my driver’s license up to 2025,” he quipped.

“It’s not yet October, Papa. You can still get pulled over because you are not an APOR,” I replied.

Resigned to being just a passenger for the ride, my dad did a quick once-over of the mu-x. “This is a behemoth. Are we going to war?” he laughed. “For its size, this SUV must not be in irresponsible hands,” he stared at me intently.

ntering the middle row seats, my dad noticed the large handle bars. “These are huge! A bit over-the-top, but I like it!”
He sat at the rear row, and pointed up. “The election season is near. They should have installed a sunroof so candidates can just stand up from here and wave to their constituents,” he chuckled.

He saw me plugging my laptop in the second row. “So, if there’s work at home, yours is work-on-the-go then,” he said.
Then he noticed the 10.1-inch infotainment screen. “Wow, it feels like I never got up from my recliner and my flat screen TV at home.”

I was already driving a bit, and he was starting to nod off, when he was startled by successive loud beeps. “What was that?”, he asked.

“It’s the Lane Departure Warning, Papa. It just alerts the driver that the vehicle may already be swerving from the lane. Don’t worry, I’m awake,” I assured him.

“So, at what speed does it activate? I’m sure the system would go crazy if you followed the racing line and not the highway lanes,” he joked.

“The LDW activates upwards of 60 kph. A stereo camera helps the system determine that the vehicle may be deviating from the lane, and will alert us with what you just heard. For models with electric power steering, the steering wheel vibrates instead of the buzzing sound. The LDW also is deactivated when you use turn signals,” I explained.
“That’s cool.” He raised his eyebrows, “But what if lane markings were faded?”

“Okay, let’s try that on faded lane markings,” I said. When we passed by an area of the road where the lane markings were barely visible, I veered off my lane a bit, but not after making sure the coast was clear.

There was no response from the system. “So, the LDW doesn’t operate in all situations. It could be that the stereo camera may not be detecting the faded lanes markings,” I observed.

My father then saw a yellow indicator light on the far edge of the side-view mirrors. “Looks like this new mu-X has the blind spot monitor, like that European car you tested some time ago,” he recalled.

“Your memory’s still quite sharp, Papa. Blind spot monitoring is really useful nowadays, when motorcycles and bicycles dart in from either sides. This system uses radar sensors to detect the presence of vehicles following in adjacent lanes, and informs the driver—and even you, my backseat driver.”

“But won’t you get complacent and trust everything on these indicators and monitors?”

I replied, “No, I won’t. Drivers are always taught to use their own senses of sight and hearing whenever they get behind the wheel. These technologies are merely meant to complement our body’s primary sensors. Also, Isuzu designers and engineers have explained that, due to the characteristics of the radar sensors, objects may not be accurately detected. It depends on the objects’ shape, speed of approach, distance from the vehicle, and the road conditions at the time.”

Another alarm went off. But we weren’t leaving our lane. Wide-eyed, my dad exclaimed, “What was that, this time?”
“Oh, now the mu-x sensed we were approaching the vehicle in front of us too fast. The car recognized the big difference in speed between my vehicle and the one in front, thereby activating the forward collision warning system.”
“Fascinating,” my dad said. “But the alarm irritates me.”

I explained further, “This mu-X also has the pedal misapplication mitigation. In automatic transmission models, if the system determines that the accelerator pedal is depressed more than necessary to start the vehicle from a stopped state, and the stereo camera recognizes an obstacle in front of the vehicle, the system restricts the engine output to reduce vehicle speed and mitigate collision damage.”

He then asked, “What if I feel that I’m giving the vehicle too much control over my driving habits? Is there a way to override these systems?”

“I checked the owner’s manual, and it says the settings can be changed by using the user customization function on the MID. But the pedal misapplication mitigation system is turned on again when the engine is restarted.”
We turned around to head back home. I went on a little detour to drive over a potholed road. “What do you think of the suspension, Papa?”

“It feels like I’m being massaged. Speaking of massages, when can we allow our reflexologist to go over to the house again?”

“When the IATF says it’s safe to do so, Papa. And only after you’ve done exercising,” I replied.