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Electronics & Test

Automakers Lay Foundation for Semi-Autonomous Driving

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Ann R. Thryft
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Re: What happens when it fails
Ann R. Thryft   7/18/2012 12:30:36 PM
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I think the argument that banning cell phone usage "hasn't worked" isn't much different from arguing that banning drunk driving hasn't worked because people still drive drunk: so should we make it OK for people to drive drunk with autonomous driving? Actually, banning drunk driving has worked (if not 100%), at least in lowering the rate of accidents due to it. And that's mostly because of enforcement. I think what's lacking in the case of texting/phoning while driving vs that of drunk driving is that a) people don't see it as wrong, and b) apparently it's not being enforced as much, probably because such a higher percentage of people do it than drive drunk, even before drunk driving enforcement efforts went up. As Bryan points out, people are making a conscious decision to do something they know is not safe: and that goes for both situations. The problem with talking about "acceptable risk" is, acceptable to whom? The risk is not just to the driver, it's also to innocent victims of the driver. I don't see how that's OK, or why it should be rewarded or accommodated.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Sending a mixed message
Rob Spiegel   7/18/2012 12:47:24 PM
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Yes, TJ, autonomous driving would be a significant prodctivity gain across the country, and it would also be a quality of life improvement for individuals. 

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Sending a mixed message
Rob Spiegel   7/18/2012 12:50:50 PM
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Good point, Chuck. They will look back and see us a gladiators fighting it out on dangerous roads. They will be shocked to find out we resisted the idea of atonomous driving.

TJ McDermott
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Re: What happens when it fails
TJ McDermott   7/18/2012 12:51:33 PM
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Ann, the ban on cell phone usage in cars will fail the same way prohibition failed.  In an intellectual sense, people see the idea as good, but in the real sense, they just had to make that one quick call.

When even the COPS are using cell phones while driving (honest, I personally saw this last week), then the law is a bad law.

Bryan Goss
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Re: What happens when it fails
Bryan Goss   7/18/2012 1:43:13 PM
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@JT, I don't think the laws will fail, but I think the only law that will stick is the hands free one, and honestly I do see a big difference in the control of my car between holding a phone to my ear and hands free. I think with hands free it lowers the risk to acceptable. Now, maybe someday fully autonomous driving will let drunks drive home safely. That being said, I do not think we should make something legal just because a lot of people want to do it. Laws are made to restrain the evil desires that we all have.

As for the cops doing it, I have been tailgated so close by a cop on the way to the police station to leave for the day, that I could see the whites of his eye in my rear view mirror. The cops can get any with almost anything they want and they know it. All they have to say is that "they have to sometime break the laws to enforce them." That is what I was told when I tried to report that cop.  

Charles Murray
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Re: What happens when it fails
Charles Murray   7/18/2012 6:45:38 PM
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TJ, as you probably know, the National Transportation Safety Board called for an all-out ban on cell phones in cars (including hands-free phones) last December.  Just as you said, the idea was met with derision. I agree with you, there's a parallel to Prohibition.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: What happens when it fails
Ann R. Thryft   7/19/2012 11:52:55 AM
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TJ, banning cell phone usage in cars is not a valid analogy to prohibition: that's an apple and a banana. The valid analogies are banning cell phone usage in cars and banning drunk drivers, as I pointed out--i.e., the usage of the thing--or banning cell phones altogether and prohibition--i.e., the thing itself--which was not being suggested. And if I saw a cop using a cell phone, I'd call the cops on him/her. Unless they have a special exemption, which might be the case. Does anyone know?

TJ McDermott
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Re: What happens when it fails
TJ McDermott   7/19/2012 12:19:51 PM
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Ann, one of the reasons for the introduction of prohibition WAS medical.  In that regard, the analogy holds.

If safety is the goal, then speed limits should also be returned to 55 mph, and strictly enforced.

A law that is constantly and consistently flouted is a bad law, no matter the good intention.  Prohibition had terrific intentions, but no one wanted it to affect them personally.  It got repealled.

Cell phone bans also are a good intention, but will be revised in some way (such as permitting use in semi-autonomous vehicles).  If the law is intended to prevent distracted driving, then the NTSB's prohibition of ALL hand-held electronics should be put in place.

However, the NTSB rule should go further than that.  Mirrors in the sun visors should be added to the forbidden list, lest someone be distracted by looking in the visor.  Car radios should be on the list as well.  Even the environmental controls can cause a driver to become distracted.

Mothers are able to manage unruly offspring ("Don't make me come back there!"), but the idea of passengers being able to distract drivers means the driver should be in an enclosed space dedicated to the driver alone (the word chauffeur was used in an earlier response).

 

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: What happens when it fails
Ann R. Thryft   7/19/2012 2:07:46 PM
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I don't agree with TJ that the analogy holds, because it doesn't structurally. And that's what analogies are about in order to work and to clarify thinking. I also don't agree with the idea that because people flout a law it's a bad law. I do agree with Bryan that the hands-free law makes the most sense, and that "I do not think we should make something legal just because a lot of people want to do it." Well said. Also well said about some cops' attitude to breaking the law.

Scott Orlosky
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Re: What happens when it fails
Scott Orlosky   7/22/2012 7:12:40 PM
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There has been a lot of work done in aviation to avoid collisions in 3D space.  I have to believe that the technological problem for cars has been pretty much solved and that issues of "personal freedom" and "control" are what limit the implementation.  Frankly I'd love to see a system that prevents "tailgating" become a mandatory part of the care just like air bags.

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