Another year is coming to a close. Another 365 days of crawling congestion, fender benders, distracted motorists and sporadic moments of actual driving – those moments, as Jack Kerouac wrote, when all a man “needed was a wheel in his hand and four on the road.” When I look back over the year in driving, a number of facts become clear.
We hate it. We love it. Some day, robots will do it for us.
In 2013, the evidence was all around. When you were stuck in traffic you were surrounded by thousands of other motorists, all of whom were, on some conscious or unconscious level, wondering how human life can come down to being stuck in a car you can’t afford on the way to a job you don’t like.
Traffic congestion worsened. For many cities, it was – and is – the single most pressing issue. Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver are all disasters and the other cities aren’t that much better. We all ponder what can be done and then nothing happens. It’s like talking to a person who tells you they can’t figure out why they have a nagging cough and then lights up a cigarette.
Among the constants: People around the world continue to want to have sex in and/or on their automobiles. News reports of car sex are too numerous to report. In Switzerland, public officials opened drive-thru sex boxes where prostitutes can service clients in the comfort of their automobiles. In September, a Chicago couple was caught on camera having sex while driving on the highway and, just recently, a Kentucky couple was charged with committing a hit-and-run and having car sex.
The automobile industry is anxious over the fact young people don’t seem interested in driving. Wondering why young people don’t want to drive is like wondering why they’re not into self-dentistry. Look at the state of driving: pollution and gridlock. Young people don’t want to drive because they haven’t given up all hope for a meaningful existence. That happens when you turn 24.
Remember these words: “car flood insurance.” Some day you’ll be asked to buy some. Hurricanes, floods, droughts, and hailstorms are normal occurrences and drivers are going to have to pay. Pretty soon, automobile insurance policies will include locusts, hailing frogs and plagues of darkness.
To be fair, 2013 wasn’t a complete washout. In May, former NFL star Keyshawn Johnson chased down cherub-faced songster Justin Bieber after he allegedly sped his Ferrari by Johnson’s house at around 90 mph. So we have that.
What will the year 2014 hold for motorists? Self-driving cars. Some day. Maybe. Soon.
We will hear a lot about the impending explosion of self-driving cars. It may all seem new, but author Isaac Asimov predicted it in a 1964 article for the New York Times entitled “Visit to the World’s Fair of 2014.”
“Much effort will be put into the designing of vehicles with ‘robot-brains,’” he wrote. “Vehicles that can be set for particular destinations and that will then proceed there without interference by the slow reflexes of a human driver.”
Problem is, self-driving cars are not ready yet and, even if they were, most automobile designers and experts can’t agree on the appropriate balance between self-driving car and driver. So 2014 will be more of the same limbo, but don’t fret: by 2024, self-driving cars will be a reality. The drive will be taken out of driving. We’ll be glorified rolling hunks of metal.
Electric cars will finally be cool. Case in point: Tesla, which plans to introduce an all-wheel-drive Model S in 2014, has a foothold in the decision-maker population. You’re going to see more CEOs and celebrities driving these babies. It’s a high-performance automobile that allows you to feel good about the environment. People will pay big money for that illusion – I mean, experience.
It’s not just Teslas that will be flying off the car lots. Experts believe that 2014 will be the best for automobile sales since 2006. Edmunds.com predicts that U.S. new-car sales will hit a record 16.4 million in 2014. In other words, for all the anxiety and frustration, for all their complaining and whining about cars, people will put more of them on the road. So we can look forward to a sea of shiny new vehicles all creeping along slower than a lame horse at a lazy trot.
So, happy New Year. And if you want to make it in to work on time on Jan. 2, you might want to leave now.
If you have questions about driving or car maintenance, please contact our experts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow us on Twitter @Globe_Drive.
Add us to your circles.
Sign up for our weekly newsletter.