The Case for Autonomous Cars – a Rant

merge

Image credit: whyyourmemeiswrong.com

To the morons my fellow motorists in the left lane:

How is it you haven’t noticed those signs for the last three miles, warning you that your lane is about to end? Benefit of the doubt – maybe some of you are visiting from another country and don’t understand the language. But all the license plates on the cars trying to squeeze past me herald from the good ol’ US of A. Surely not every one of these lane crashers is a stranger in a strange land. So that means there’s a good chance the rest of you are illiterate. Why else would you keep racing along right up to the construction barrels before standing on the brakes and forcing your way into the line here in the right lane?

If not illiterate, then you must be, like Forrest Gump, just plain stupid. Somehow, you are still unable to grasp the physics behind a traffic jam. Controlled merging while our cars are still moving, say, about a mile back, allows for everyone to keep rolling along in a continuous flow. But when you (and an endless stream of your butt-wipe friends) insist on driving down to the last inch of pavement, even as the giant flashing arrows and orange Department of Transportation signs implore you to get the hell over, you diddle us all. Don’t expect to be welcomed into the fold, and most certainly don’t offer a friendly wave as you wedge in front of me – I’m calling you every name in the book behind my tinted windows.

Congratulations, though. You’re now seven cars ahead of where you would have been had you made that controlled merge I mentioned. The irony (something else you seem unable to grasp, so I’ll explain it to you) is that a little cooperation would have allowed us to sail through this lane closure and, even seven cars back, you would have made far better time. Instead, since your inability to act in a judicious fashion has brought the entire freeway to a screeching halt, we’ll just sit here and bask in the glow of the brotherly love this moment has produced.

Is there a solution? Well, we could, as a society, just stop repairing our infrastructure – that would alleviate the problem, at least temporarily. Or perhaps the DOT could go all Mad Max and begin installing spike strips in the last half-mile or so of the lane that’s about to close. Hey, just throwing out ideas, here.

No, I suppose the best we can hope for, barring some government-sponsored electroshock ‘re-education’ program, is that your next car will be a ‘self-driver,’ one that comprehends the subtleties of playing nicely and sharing the road, one that will take the decision out of your hands while offering a friendly reminder as you try to make that last-second merge, “I’m sorry Dave (or Tom or Brian or Jennifer), I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

And maybe, just maybe, it could slap you upside the head with the sun visor, for all of us over here in the right lane.

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17 thoughts on “The Case for Autonomous Cars – a Rant

  1. Absolutely brilliant, Curt! A very enjoyable post. Also, a very salient post. I would recommend that in addition to smacking the moron upside the head, a taser should be installed in the dash. Just for “reinforcement” purposes.

  2. I was on your side for years until I read the scientific study that actually proved if all the cars form two lanes and zipper together right at the end, the whole mess moves faster. One lane still gets the stink eye from the other, though, so I choose according to my tolerance for sphincter-types that day.

    • As a former airborne traffic reporter, I watched these things for 5 years and might dispute those findings. Besides, “zipper together” almost never happens…instead it’s more “horning in” randomly. My guess is the study was commissioned by the lane-crashers to make themselves feel better about their actions.

  3. As a former Michigander you’ll be glad to know, over all, we’ve taken the infrastructure neglect option
    We almost got to vote to tax ourselves for roads but legislators put so much garbage into the ballot proposal we came to call it the goulash Bill and it failed to garner enough votes.Now it’s back to our reps and going nowhere.

    Once upon a time on I-80, I saw an Illinois state trooper directing cars to merge back where the first signage was.

    • I noticed…was back in the mitten a couple months ago to visit my mom and recognized that familiar ‘thu-thump, thu-thump, thu-thump’ under the tires as soon as I hit the state line. Don’t know why they can’t figure out how to pave a road back there. And that Illinois cop probably got fired for trying to maintain a cordial merge.

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