I enjoy driving an automobile. A couple of years ago, we went for a 7,000 mile drive. We saw friends in Amarillo, TX, relatives in Tombstone and Phoenix, AZ, San Diego, Los Angeles, Bakersfield, and San Francisco, CA. After that we toured the wine country, visited several National Parks, and went through Reno and Las Vegas, NV on our return trip. What happened in Vegas stays in Vegas.
We had recently gone on a 14-day cruise. I kept thinking to myself, this road trip is a hundred times more fun and interesting.
I have a concern this experience may soon be a thing of the past. Self-driving cars are almost perfected and will soon be everywhere. Already there is a Cadillac that can drive itself from Chicago to Los Angeles with virtually no input from the “driver/rider.”
Getting a driver’s license was the most exciting day in a person’s life. The driving lessons from an exasperated father displaying his talent for colorful language was a rite of passage. And it was all but forgotten when you were taking the drivers examination. Most of us remember the sweaty palms and the dry mouth we got when the driving examiner said, “now let’s see you parallel park”. Despite the aggravation that came with it, getting the license, and the freedom and independence it represented, was worth it all.
A driverless future could be considered a great advancement, but there are obvious drawbacks.
Soon, with a car that can drive itself and make a perfect parallel park, both teenagers can be in the back seat together while riding to the movie. Uh-oh. And the Sunday drive with the family will not be the same if dad isn’t complaining about other drivers. There are many obvious questions such as will the autopilot eliminate fender benders? Will insurance rates go down? Will police forces be reduced? Will the car automatically reduce speeds for school zones? Will DUIs be changed to RUIs (riding while under the influence)? Will old people keep their driver’s (passenger) licenses? Will mothers still drive the kids to school, or will the car take them to school and return to the garage while mother is attending to other chores?
Before we rush pell-mell into a future loaded with so many questions, perhaps the auto-piloted cars should be given additional thought?
Leonard E. Sullivan