Driving excitement is in danger.
Google has begun producing cars without steering wheels or pedals. Cars that drive themselves.
Drivers may someday be obsolete. Humans will no longer be needed to control the wheel.
And think what we will lose: the pleasures of the iconic machine of American life. What is the symbol of America to the rest of the world, if not the lone driver screeching the tires, gunning the convertible down an endless highway?
It is true that what Google wants it usually gets – not just every detail of your life loadable and trackable to every varmint with an internet connection, but those terrible mechanical photos of your house snapped on a dreary, ugly afternoon immediately reducing its collateral value for your urgent personal loans.
But all is not yet lost. Before the robots take over, we can fight back with new rules of the road – based not on the law, but on the natural law of how people really drive. And my home state of Florida, which in one recent survey achieved four out of the top ten spots of US municipalities for particularly perilous driving (Miami was No. 1) is the perfect laboratory for creating and dissecting new rules of driving that reflect our culture, our values, and our love of personal liberty. For driving should be fun. The brain loves novelty. Life can be a daily adventure.
Especially on the road.
The New Rules
1. Always Attempt to Text While Driving. Yes, many states have outlawed this practice – but only nominally. In Florida, they can only track texting while driving after picking you up for another infraction. So hey, what’s the problem?
Texting allows you to keep up with friends. Everyone knows social support is critical to health. Texting also facilitates working on the road – and you never, never have enough time for work. It lets you know what your kids are doing, whether your grandmother has fallen in the nursing home, what really happened when the CIA attended Kim Kardashian’s wedding. It lets you remain connected – an essential goal of our lives.
And what are the anti-texting rules based on anyway? Just studies like one where texting truck drivers caused 23 times as many deaths as those who didn’t. But do you believe those statistics? Besides, they’re based on average drivers.
There’s nothing average about your driving.
And Americans know they’re rarely average. Asked in a recent survey if their intelligence or abilities was below average, 4% of American adults agreed.
We know we’re good. We know statistics lie. We can drive better than anybody – except perhaps Nikki Lauda.
And if they do catch us texting and driving, so what? When they caught Florida’s governor orchestrating the largest Medicare fraud in history, he didn’t flinch. He took the Fifth Amendment, refusing to speak for fear of incriminating himself – 75 times.
If a governor does it, why can’t you? It worked for him. And our legal system innately recognizes how critical individual freedom is to our lives.
Look, do you know anybody jailed for driving and texting?
2. Whenever Possible, Use Cellphones While Driving.
The brain loves a cognitive challenge. And it is truly a challenge to talk with the people you love while simultaneously dodging traffic – especially those 90 year olds with macular degeneration that have to stop at lights to recognize the color.
Plus there are cognitive challenges you can set yourself – like backing up your vehicle into a super-tight parking spot while scheduling video games with your friends.
So unlike school or work, driving can aid brain development on every single strip of tarmac. Rise up to the challenge by calling everybody – your girlfriend, your grandmother, your first grade teacher, even your probation officer. Don’t worry – they’ll love to hear from you.
And when you can’t reach anyone, you can always text.
Life in the fast lane may be enthralling, but it can also prove exacting. You reserve the right to stop dead in your tracks – like when your boyfriend texts that he’s thinking of breaking up with you. Just remember to put on your emergency lights before you stop.
If your stupid boyfriend’s text isn’t an emergency, what is?
3. Never Use Directional Signals.
It’s not just a generational thing – like your grandfather chiding you that you only signal you’re turning after you’ve begun turning.
Why make life so easy for the other drivers? Don’t they deserve a cognitive challenge now and then?
Directional signals also provide a literally false signal to other drivers – that you’re thinking about them, concerned about them. All of which is just a sign of weakness.
Remember - You Own The Road.
You slaved and saved for that SUV. It somebody can't realize until the last second that you're swerving into their lane, that’s tough. When it gets down to vehicle versus vehicle, you’re the one in control – and your vehicle is bigger than hers anyway.
She knows well enough to get the heck out of your way.
4. Always Drive Slowly In the Left Lane.
Some people think that the slowest cars should always stick to the right lane of traffic. It’s your right to prove them wrong.
To truly test driving skill, people must learn to pass other vehicles in every lane - right, middle, or left. By driving slowly in the left lane – especially when arguing with your spouse/partner/boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other – you can train people to pay attention. And attention is the most important component of driving pleasure.
When you stop suddenly in the left lane, you create a special learning experience for everyone behind you. That will teach fellow drivers they must be prepared to do almost anything to preserve their lives and their vehicles – a vital message to citizens everywhere.
5. Challenge Bicyclists and Pedestrians.
Bicyclists are getting plenty uppity these days. When they’re on the road, they demand to be treated like pedestrians on the sidewalk – yeah, we always come first. When they’re on the sidewalk, they demand to be treated like vehicles on the road – get out of my way.
You’ve got a car. It’s time for you to teach bicyclists a lesson.
Bicycling is an affront to the very ideal of the American adventure. Bicyclists hardly pollute. They travel under their own power. They take every opportunity to demonstrate their superiority to drivers in big SUVs who they claim are destroying wildlife, the environment, and accelerating global climate change.
With attitudes like that, bicyclists belong in Europe – or other far away places.
But you can teach them a lesson. You can let them know who’s boss.
It’s not hard to intimidate a bicyclist. Little feints, pumping the horn, a caustic shout or two, can get them out of your way and onto the sidewalk.
With pedestrians – which is where they belong.
And when pedestrians try to cross in the middle of the street, or just try to get stroll into the crosswalk, slam into higher gear. They need to know who’s in charge. Cars and trucks rule.
Best of all, you’ll be doing them a favor. Studies show that quick bursts of physical activity turn whole hosts of genes. They even help protect people from diabetes.
So when that pedestrian carefully touches the crosswalk buttons and starts marching across the road – barring your natural right to a right turn – let them know it’s time for them to get going – fast.
You’ll be saving them from diabetes and heart disease later in life. In the end you’re just performing your civic duty – making people fit for the real world.
There are many more rules of the road to be written. And you will help write them. Remember, with every push on the gas pedal, a new rule comes into existence – your rule.