Ask an old guy what he thinks of self-driving cars. Almost always you’ll get a negative reply – full of emotion. “That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard of. It won’t work. Who wants a computer chip controlling their car? No one will buy them!” On and on he’ll rant.
Then ask his wife; a wife who has been sitting in the passenger seat while he has controlled the steering wheel and brake pedal for years. Just for kicks, you might take a look at the floorboard under her feet in the passenger compartment. You are likely to see a big bulge in the metal where she has slammed down her foot every time she thought he wasn’t reacting fast enough to brake lights coming on ahead of them on the highway, or because of his last minute reaction to a traffic light. The bigger the bulge, the more she is ready for a self-driving car.
She will tell you she can’t wait for them, no matter what issues they have, “It’s got to be better than sitting next to an old coot who insists his driving skills are of the highest caliber.”
It’s not all his fault, this business of a passengers slamming on an invisible brake. Most of us have a similar reaction when we’re riding with someone who drives differently than we do: they follow closer to the car in front of them, they pull back into the driving lane after passing too soon; those sort of things.
But an old guy’s wife is different. She’s suffered with the issue for years, has never gotten used to his driving eccentricities, which have become more erratic over time. The real issue with self-driving cars, to us old guys, is the loss of freedom they will impose on us. We’re also afraid that hackers will get into the brain of a self-driving car, hackers our wives could hire to keep us from pulling into the lodge parking lot, the cupcake shop, or the diner where we stop for our third cup of coffee of the day. We’d be happy to have the car drive us where we want to go, ON OCCASION! But, our fear of losing control dominates our anti-self-driving car paranoia.
Our fathers felt the same way when “automatic” transmissions swooped in during the 1950’s, followed by a parade of driving enhancements: power steering, power brakes, beeping seat belt alarms, ABS brake systems. It’s been a stream of mechanical devices inching toward the ultimate goal of taking the steering wheel out of our control. We all feel the same way about that, us old guys, you’ll have to pry it out of our cold dead hands!
Comments? Complaints? Send to firstname.lastname@example.org.