ST. SIMONS ISLAND, GA. | I sometimes walk around with dark grime under my fingernails and blackened lines in the cracks on my hands because I still change the oil in my old truck every year or so, which is about as often as I wash it.
When that truck quits, I don’t know if I’ll still do that, but the day is coming when I probably won’t even drive anymore. I’m hearing that by 2025 or so, we’ll go everywhere in self-driving cars, buses and trucks. Land of the free, home of the Miss Daisies.
Part of our culture was built on people driving cars, like this song from Ronnie and the Daytonas back in the 1960s:
“Little GTO, you’re really lookin’ fine
Three deuces and a four-speed and a 389
Listen to her tachin’ up now,
Listen to her why-ee-eye-ine.”
In today’s world GTO would probably stand for Google Transport Organization. Who wants to cruise downtown on a Friday night and try to impress girls in a Google?
“Route 66” was a TV show that premiered in 1960 in which character Tod Stiles and Buz Murdock drove along U.S. 66 in a Corvette convertible. On my family’s TV, which came from Western Auto, it was gray-and-white. I think in real life, the car was red-and-white.
“Route 66” would not be possible self-driven, and can you see Bond, James Bond, fleeing Russian spies in an Uber?
These self-driving vehicles are all built to avoid hitting other cars and people. And deer, I hope. But the drawback to that is you’ll sit hours at crosswalks because every person will know they can take as long as they like crossing the road. They could fire up a grill and burn some hamburgers and no car will hit them.
I was talking to my friend Laurence Melton in Brantley County about self-driving vehicles, and he said a truck driver told him it won’t work everywhere.
“There’s no way they’ll get a self-driving truck to drive the streets of Brooklyn, N.Y., and make a delivery,” the guy told him.
But it will diminish the quality of life in Brantley County and places like it. How will a couple of farmers stop their pickup trucks window-to-window on a dirt road and talk about how bad they need rain and the sorry price of corn?
If we do have self-driving cars there should be an override so Glynn Academy students can travel the St. Simons Island causeway tail-gating on their way to school.
On the good side, it should cut down on lawyers advertising on TV for alleged accident victims. Some TV helicopter pilots in Los Angeles are going to be out of work because there will be a considerably lower number of high-speed chases on the freeway to cover. Back when Tod and Buz were cruising Route 66, teenagers used to park and neck. I’m not sure how they got the term necking out the resulting activity, but with driverless cars they can neck at the posted speed limit.
Sure, the self-driving cars will eventually be safe, but imagine the poor couple headed to the hospital at 34.5 mph when the contractions are three minutes apart.
In an old black-and-white Mickey Rooney movie — probably one of the Andy Hardy series — he asks his father, “May I borrow the family sedan?”
Teenagers still do that, but soon dad will say, “I have no idea. Ask the car.”
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