A reader writes:
Just a quick response to the question: My mother is 88 years old. She’s in great shape for 88, very self-sufficient. But she’s not really physically fit to drive and thankfully gave up her car keys willingly about 8 years ago. Many “seasoned citizens” are decidedly NOT willing to give up their keys, and it’s a terrible battle within families when it’s time for Grampa to give up driving for good.
My mom feels very stranded and many times wishes she could still drive. She loves the idea of a self-driving car, it would give her back some of the freedom she gave up when she stopped driving. She’s doubts she’ll live to see the day when self-driving cars are a reality, but I can see how it can really improve the lives of elderly folks, as well as the handicapped.
Another agrees – and expands the argument:
Autonomous cars will be a boon for aging populations.
Many old people rely on their cars but should not be driving. Simply taking them off the road does not help them go to the hospital, store, to socialize and live active lives. But a chauffeur-less car would allow them to do these things without driving.
If there’s an argument that old people should be driven automatically, there’s an argument that all people should be. There’d be far fewer accidents, no traffic, no parking meters, no parking garages, no drunk driving, no insurance issues, no traffic stops, and no DMV. And you could text and talk to your heart’s content, with even a beer if you like, or work on your computer on the way to the office – all the negatives associated with car culture would be abated. You would not need to own a car; you could subscribe to a car service. “Your car” would always be within five minutes of you, among a vast fleet.
Aside from ferrying people around, the most impact from driverless vehicles would be on trucking. “Trucks” would be like those strange little boxy robots in the early Star Wars movies, zipping along on their individual missions. They would completely revolutionize how things are transported and delivered, from the macro to the micro, in driverless trucks of all sizes, down to the pedestrian level. A pharmacy might dispatch your medicines from a secure mini-truck in your area. Order online, get your pills in a few minutes. Or takeout, Amazon goodies – all “things” would be in motion. Not to mention the impact of drone delivery systems. A totally different world, to be sure.
I just wonder if there’s a tradeoff of freedoms. Would you get into your driverless car, and find yourself locked in and being taken to the IRS, FBI, NSA or police for some infraction that’s on your record? Driverless paddy wagons?