Between the automobile and the driver, at least one par ty should come equipped with a brain.
That is why parents of teenagers should welcome the advent of the driverless car.
The state of California, which is on the cutting edge of car technology, will begin testing selfdriving cars that have artificial intelligence.
Although a licensed driver must accompany the car, the vehicle drives itself using radar sensors, laser range finders, video, global positioning satellite signals and a computer. The thought is that cars will be able to stay out of trouble by communicating with each other and with traffic monitors.
The driverless car is not exactly a new concept. If you consider the number of people talking, texting, eating, primping and turning around to yell at their kids, a lot of cars on the road today have no drivers.
Perhaps the new technology will make the roads safer while the human occupants tend to more pressing tasks, such as selecting music on an iPod or dipping french fries into ketchup.
Some experts are excited by the promise the technology holds for the independence of elderly drivers. We parents are more excited about the effects on the younger set.
What parent hasn’t cried out in panic from the front passenger seat as a student driver performs some breathtaking stunt from behind the wheel? What parent doesn’t worry every time a kid drives away from the house?
Driving is the most dangerous activity teenagers undertake.
Some parents are getting a break because of a recent trend.
A smaller percentage of teens are getting their licenses as soon as they turn 16.
A University of Michigan study cited in a Scripps Howard editorial shows that more than 30 percent of Americans ages 17 to 19 do not have a license. That is up from 12.7 percent in 1983.
Unfortunately, most of our gang wanted a driver’s license immediately after extinguishing the 16th candle. We are five kids down with one to go, saying “giddyap” to new technology before the last child wants to drive.
Driving has not always been so dangerous.
When my dad was a teen, he benefitted from a technological breakthrough otherwise known as a horse.
He never rear-ended anybody or lost control in a sharp curve.
When a teenager drives a horse, the horse is the brains of the operation. It knows how fast to go, when to brake and how to parallel park.
Maybe we are coming full circle in safer transportation.
Technology is reintroducing a little horse sense.
Scott Morris is the executive editor of the Times- Daily. He can be reached at 256-740-5721 or scott.morris@TimesDaily.com.
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