Monday, April 23, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: Driverless cars in Tampa? It just does not compute

In the interests of full disclosure I will readily admit to certain Luddite tendencies.

Although I have a Facebook page, created simply to humor the nudging of the Bombshell of the Balkans, I never look at it. Frankly, I have zero interest in being constantly informed where friends might be dining — at that very moment! — or what someone is cooking up in their kitchen.

I don't tweet, twitter, or whatever the heck it's called. Blogging? Why? I've never Linked In and I certainly would never think to purchase anything online. I was well into my 40s before I ever used an ATM and I'm still not completely sold on the idea either. Now this.

It is just our dumb luck that Tampa has been chosen as one of the select sites around the country to conduct experiments on the use of driverless cars. Uh, is it too late for a recount?

If it's all the same to the U.S. Department of Transportation, perhaps these driverless car tests could be shifted to, oh maybe Damascus, or why not Baghdad, where it's already deadly enough to find oneself stuck in traffic.

It's merely a suggestion.

Apparently the study on robotic cars will take place on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway during nonpeak hours. Eventually other streets such as Meridian Avenue and the Brandon Parkway might also be used to simulate, in the words of Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority executive director Joe Waggoner, a full driving experience.

If Waggoner truly wants to stick one of these fancy thingies into a full driving experience, they can just park the cockamamie contraption in the middle of Meridian at rush hour and go have a few drinks until the next day.

My late grandmother, when confronted by some newfangled emerging technology like a washing machine, would bemoan that "Oh, I've lived too long." I now know how you must of felt, Nana.

Put another way, simply because it might be technically possible to create a driverless car, does it necessarily follow that it is a peachy idea to actually have ghost vehicles zooming hither and yon along our byways?

Supporters of driverless vehicles argue that the phantom cars will be safer and decrease costs associated with accidents from insurance and medical treatment. But do you really want risk riding in a driverless car that might well drive into a tree because some gizmo within the guts of the computer failed?

Or what happens when a driverless car wakes up on the wrong side of the motherboard one morning? Has anyone thought of that?

Four words: 2001: A Space Odyssey. "I'm sorry, Dave, but I don't believe in red lights."

Even if you are a completely dedicated technophile, would you seriously consider getting into the passenger seat of an automobile totally dependant on a hard drive to get you safely from point A to point B without rear-ending a truck?

Who knows? Maybe someday far, far, far into the future, the Mary Celeste Chevy might possibly be roadworthy, but only if the scientists can add just a few extra touches.

For example the headless car should be able to express itself toward other vehicles using the international hand gesture for ... have a nice day. It also ought to be able to drive at least 20 miles per hour slower than the posted speed limit in the left-hand lane. And the zombie sedan ought to be equipped with ear-shattering heavy metal music just to annoy all the other Pontiac Apparitions.

Now that would be progress.

Comments
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18