Alphabet’s Waymo probably operates the most successful autonomous fleet in North America right now. While we can debate its technical prowess versus its rivals forever, it’s still one of the only companies offering a commercial taxi service using autonomous vehicles in North America. It also has an enviable safety record.
The company has also worked on adapting the technology for Class 8 trucks, testing such units previously in California, Atlanta, and Arizona. Recently, the company tweeted that self-driving semis would soon return for more testing in Phoenix — where it runs its Pacifica-based early rider program — as the company places a renewed emphasis on their development.
If you ask any terrible motorist how skilled they are behind the wheel, the response is often the same. “Oh, I’m a great driver,” they’ll say with a self-assured smile. Meanwhile, you’re left holding back a series of screaming rants that involve first-hand accounts of why their claim couldn’t possibly be accurate. But what about the rest of the country?
As it turns out, the general consensus in the United States is that most people think they’re a fine driver. But things get a little more complicated when you drive into people’s habits behind the wheel. In a recent survey, Driving-tests.org found that 60.8 percent of surveyed Americans thought they were an above-average driver. While that percentage can only be an impossibility, some of the claimed behaviors were slightly better than a comparative sample of international respondents.
A report by published by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting (NECIR) (via WGBH Boston) details that state’s widening private and public systems for road tests by the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
Prospective drivers may wait hours for an available examiner, or book months in advance — sometimes hundreds of miles away — for their chance at a road test. Or, they could pay hundreds to jump the line, and in some cases, have an examiner come to them.
The story details a growing schism in some places for public tests giving preferential treatment to private businesses because of cash-strapped budgets or over-burdened examiners.
Readers of TTAC’s Facebook account know that our luxury-and-performance-car-scribe Alex Dykes currently has his hands on the newest Mercedes CLS63 AMG. One of Mr. Dykes’ current concerns is the fact that the $140,000 Mercedes has no “next track” button on the steering wheel. He has a real point there: that’s one of just six buttons that my 2009 Town Car does have on its steering wheel. Of course, the first thing I did when I took delivery of the Town Car was to swap the head unit for a all-in-one Pioneer thingy. So now that button doesn’t work.
But away from the world of six-digit Benzos and the most delightful cream-color-interior Panthers, there’s a little thing called the Real World. No, not the MTV show! The other Real World! And Hooniverse has its fingers on the pulse.
YouTube user Bajabusta has done us quite a service by uploading so many old Car & Track road tests from the late 1960s and early 1970s. We watched the ’72 Volkswagen 412 exhibit some scary trailing throttle oversteer last week, and now it’s time to watch a classic Detroit land yacht make its stately way around a test track.
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- FreedMike On the one hand, it doesn't look good. On the other hand, not releasing the car into the hands of the general public until the obvious bugs are worked out is a good idea for a brand new company. Time will tell.
- FreedMike I do take phone calls using Car Play if I'm not in traffic; it's a little bit of a distraction, but not much. I think it's certainly within an acceptable risk margin if you're not in heavy traffic. Back in the old days when I had a manual car and no Bluetooth, I never used the phone while driving at all.
- FreedMike I guess some folks are just bound and determined to drive around with a grenade in their steering wheel.
- FreedMike Bit dear, but these might have collector appeal, particularly one with 20,000 miles (assuming that's not a doctored figure) that hasn't had the full "whip" treatment.
- Adam4562 I have Bluetooth in my car , the name comes up and I answer . It goes through the speaker. I’ll text on a stop sign or red light . If it’s really urgent hill pull over .