We went to a truck show without a truck this past week, and it was probably one of the saddest things I’ve ever done. I spent the entire time missing our truck, and wishing she was there. I’m probably going to have to go on Prozac before all the gee-gaws and chrome are back on here and she’s rolling again, I am literally living for the day we pull her into Greg Stahl’s place to have the finishing touches put on by his skilled hand. Breathe, Wendy, just breathe…
Anyway, we rented a car to take to the show, and it was brand-new car with all the bells and whistles. Automatic everything, including its desire to murder me, or at least chop off my head with the hatch back. I don’t know if the thing was broken, or it just really hated being open, but the stupid car automatically closed the hatch on me about 12 times before I quit fooling with it at all and started crawling over the backseat when I needed something out of the way-back. (This is not progress, Ford. This is so aggravating it makes people want to do things like take a ball peen hammer to a rented hatchback. I think human beings who are capable of driving cars should be able to handle closing doors by themselves, so take the damn auto close off before you kill someone with it.)
I’m no Luddite, I enjoy technology as much as anyone else, but I believe a lot of it is being forced into these vehicles before it’s perfected. That’s more dangerous than not having the technology at all. I’m also silly enough to believe that if you want safer roads, you should probably start with the roads themselves.
In the great push for ultimate safety, car and truck manufacturers have put the proverbial cart before the horse, especially with the self-driving vehicles. Sure it would be awesome to have a truck that drives itself, but what road in America is the truck going to operate on regularly without an internal meltdown because it can’t discern between the cavernous potholes and real danger? You can have all the cameras and sensors you want, but without a brain or a reasonably decent surface to operate these things on, they’re going to be spending an inordinate amount of time automatically stopped, and people behind them are going to either automatically slam into the ICC bumper or sail past them in the breakdown lane screaming and automatically flailing their middle fingers.
Pennsylvania alone will be crippled with self-driving trucks that have just given up altogether and turned themselves off, and Oklahoma will be a parking lot of epic proportions.
Indiana announced they’re going to install automatic scales in the highway, which makes perfect sense, because they certainly won’t have to dig any holes to put them in. I guess the idea is to lay scales in the vast expanses of rubble between asphalt swatches that occur about every half mile on 99 percent of their public roads, but wouldn’t it make more sense to just fill them with asphalt? I don’t know, maybe I’m just nuts.
The older I get, the less I think it’s a good idea to let the machines be in charge. I don’t like automatic sinks, and the self checkout at Kroger never works right for me, so I avoid it. The experience we had with the fully automatic Ford this past week has pretty much assured we’ll never buy a new vehicle, or at least one that tries to trap us in it (or out of it) every chance it gets. I feel much more comfortable in our old pickup, with a 5 speed manual transmission and windows you actually have to roll up and down yourself – at least I know it’s not going to freak out on me and slam a door on my leg.
Don’t automate me, bro.