There’s been a lot of talk and articles in the news lately about cars and trucks with the ability to drive themselves. Mercedes unveiled the driverless trucks a couple of months ago, Peterbilt demonstrated its own recently, and I just saw a commercial for a Lexus that does pretty much everything but brew coffee for you while you “drive.” It alerts you when you’re drifting out of your lane, it stops for you when you’re too busy playing Words With Friends to pay attention in traffic and I have it on good authority that next year’s model will also give a painless Brazilian wax, for those days when you just don’t feel like getting up in time to do it at home. (This is a filthy lie. There isn’t a Brazilian wax on the face of the planet that doesn’t hurt, and there never will be.)
With all these nifty new features, you’d think the human race would be the safest breathers on the globe. We’ve achieved the gold standard of safety, and have only given a large portion of our free will and intelligence to have it. So yay.
It’s a proven fact that the less time you spend engaging in an activity, the less accurate you become at that activity. “Practice makes perfect” isn’t just something your Grandma pulled out of her panty drawer to tell you when you sucked at something, it’s the truth. The less people are made to pay attention and drive, the less they will engage in that activity, and the more their abilities to do so will suffer.
Instead of having a nice, relaxing little chime and a sexy woman’s voice that comes through the stereo speakers and says, “You’re drifting to the right, love, correct into your lane,” there should be a tiny cattle prod right under the driver’s rumpus that shocks the doody out of them when they screw up. Drivers get a minor “owie” shock for drifting a little, a medium-size “holy crap that hurt” shock when they tailgate or fail to brake, and if at any time the car or truck detects the operator playing Bubble Witch on their phone or tablet, it should pull itself to the side of the road, park, and attach electrodes to the driver’s kneecaps and nipples and shock them until they’re foaming at the mouth and twerking uncontrollably.
My mom and dad taught me a long time ago that if you make things too easy for someone, you’re not doing them any favors. Driving is a responsibility, and if you’re not down with accepting the responsibility, don’t do it. There’s a thing called “public transportation” for people who can’t force themselves to put the phone down long enough to merge on to 285, and that’s cool, we’re not judging these people at all – it’s awesome to be a Mega Brain Master at Tetris. I’m certain those skills will come in handy one day when the future of the universe depends on fitting the correct box into a tight space.
Meanwhile, instead of dumping all this money into robot cars, why don’t we improve the roads a little? I’m not sure how these geniuses designing all this software to run our lives with think a self-driver is going to act in Oklahoma, where the potholes are so big the vehicles will surely deploy their parachutes every time they hit one. Airbags will most definitely eject in Pennsylvania, and there’s nothing peskier than having an airbag hit your phone and drive it into your face with the force of a charging Brahma bull while you’re trying to navigate the highway and play Scrabble. Seriously.