By on June 13, 2011

More people feel that the task of driving belongs to the driver, and do you really want to sort of hand over your safety to a machine? It’s possible the technology might one day be widely deployed. I just don’t think we’re anywhere close to that right now

NHTSA Administrator David Strickland came away from his first run-in with Google’s autonomous cars in a less-than-entirely optimistic mood [via the DetN]. You might think that Strickland, who is a central figure in Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s “War on Distraction,” would appreciate a driver that has no need for Twitter, Facebook or the other increasingly-common in-car distractions. Instead, he took his position to its remarkably solid core: that individuals need to think more, not less, about their responsibilities as drivers. It’s actually a fantastic message, especially given that he wasn’t kidding about the “technology isn’t ready” part, telling the DetN

There’s near misses. It’s not fool-proof. There’s a lot of work to go, [but] it’s a great piece of technology.”

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9 Comments on “Quote Of The Day: Driverless Distraction Edition...”


  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    Good for him and about time someone admitted that the driver has to LEARN to think MORE, not LESS.

    We certainly are relying way too much on technology to do our bidding for too many things and letting infotainment rule our lives, even to the detriment of driving.

    When we do, we then begin to forget how to think and react when someone or machine veers into our path.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Instead, he took his position to its remarkably solid core: that individuals need to think more, not less, about their responsibilities as drivers

    Once you get past the fantasy that things would be work if only you had a better class of person you can move on and get things done. It’s like the people who argue that communism would work if only we had the right kind of communist.

    It would be nice if you could get people to be better drivers, but it just won’t happen. Distracted drivers are going to continue to be a problem if they have cell phones or not, and since you’re not going to get that genie back in it’s bottle, nor come up with a useful enforcement strategy, you need to give on expecting better people and deal with the people you have, and the technology that can avoid or mitigate the problem.

    Driverless cars are off in the future, but the technology that leads to them (LIDAR cruise, peer-to-peer intervehicle communications, BLIS, lane detection, driver monitoring) are all good steps.

    • 0 avatar
      akitadog

      You can’t “enforce” good driving, but you can make it more prevalent simply by mandating driver training courses, written exams that actually require some studying, 100 hours or so behind the wheel, certification from a defensive driving course, etc. We can do a better job of treating the privilege to drive as a PRIVILEGE and not a right.

      It may not all stick when it’s over, but there would actually be more of something to stick in the first place.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        We can do a better job of treating the privilege to drive as a PRIVILEGE and not a right.

        We’ve been through this one, too. Driver training doesn’t really improve the habits of poor drivers. They’ll study for the test and go back to their poor habits day-to-day.

        You can condition good driving, but that only really works for people who face in extremis condition all the time (eg, race car drivers, certain truckers). For people who face mundane driving tasks training really doesn’t do much: we see this in how average “trained” drivers like, eg, police officers are.

        You’d need to intensively train and review people something like four times a year at minimum to make this work (yearly wouldn’t be enough). Considering there’s no money and even less political will to regulate far more troubling problems, I doubt that will happen.

        We know that training and enforcement doesn’t work unless you’re unrealistically draconian. We do know that technology does work, and without much in the way of changing people. So why not push what does work (technology) rather than what doesn’t?

      • 0 avatar
        akitadog

        Driver training doesn’t really improve the habits of poor drivers. They’ll study for the test and go back to their poor habits day-to-day.

        Tell me, what bad driving habits would a new driver have to fall back on?

        My point isn’t to round up current drivers and force them to go through training, but to get new drivers accustomed to good habits at the beginning. We can do this if we make driver training courses and logged hours mandatory. Older bad drivers would slowly exit the system through “attrition.”

  • avatar
    stuki

    The Federal level is exactly the worst possible place to locate decisions about how far to allow driver replacement by technology to go. Like all areas where there is no absolute right or wrong choice, the more different regimes are attempted, the more information is discovered, and the quicker the entirety of the country would move in the direction of the “right” choice.

    Of course, there is always the risk that what turns out to be this “right choice” does not favor currently entrenched interests, so fat chance seeing them give up the much more predictable regime of simply lobbying the feds.


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