Driving Under the Influence of Automation

Back in the 70’s and 80’s, what is currently being referred to as “driving under the influence” was referred to as “driving while intoxicated” or DWI (dee-wee!). Back then, MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) was a strong force, as many mothers had suffered the loss of a child in tragic car accidents.

Fast forward to 2013 and I’m watching a story on the news where a woman under the influence caused a crash that killed some innocent people. 2014 and we’re still killing and maiming people with cars.¬†Clearly, stronger laws against driving while intoxicated (or driving under the influence) have not solved the problem. Addictions are difficult to regulate!

This cold reality makes me think – makes me KNOW – that we need to come up with technology to fix this problem. Through all of the marketing, through all of the efforts made to make people aware of the dangers of drinking and driving and what do we have to show for it? Continued death of innocent people and destruction of property and people’s lives. Ugh. This sucks.

The good news is that smart people are hard at work on this problem. This time it’s not just sociologists and mad moms; it’s technologists and scientists. And they’re making some serious progress, as you’ve likely seen with the Google Prius self-driving car over the past two years. And now in 2014 most car companies have continued to add new safety features that make driving incrementally safer and are working on advanced safety features that will ultimately reduce the chance of any of us being in a car accident.

We still have a long ways to go, though, and I worry that others are going to suffer if we don’t act quickly to motivate auto companies and perhaps more importantly, care buyers, to demand revolutionary advances in safety vs. the incremental improvements we’ve been seeing.

It’s true that technology can’t solve every one of society’s problems; however, for this particular problem engineers have shown that technology, along with appropriate social services to assist people in battling their challenges, will have a positive impact on traffic deaths and property damage similar to how the polio vaccine has had a positive impact in the overall health of the world’s population.

My brother is the victim of a drunk driver. One could argue that the perpetrator got off easy – he was killed instantly – while my brother continues to suffer the effects of the accident, with nagging wrist (broke both) and hip (replaced twice already) injuries. And now I’m reading my Facebook feed and see just now a post from a friend from the past whose brother was killed in a preventable accident two years ago. Ugh. This sucks!

Are you MADD enough yet to support the bringing of safe auto technology to the market faster? I know I am.

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