Unfortunately, I tried to link up the article, but the website link is subscriber-only content. That being said, this article from TIME Magazine was a super interesting read about the possible future of the Auto Industry and I highly recommend finding this article by any means necessary!
I always check out the library first and foremost (and this is TIME Magazine, people. Your local library has it!) Other options might be to check it on at the Grocery store or via Zinio, or you can follow THIS LINK and subscribe to TIME Magazine right from your computer and read this and many other super interesting articles! (To clarify, this is not a sponsored post for TIME Magazine, but if anyone from TIME is reading this…let’s talk!)
The article in reference is from the March 7th, 2016 issue (and starts on page 52 if you’re looking to read as you stand in line at the grocery store!)
The article paints a picture of a world that is quickly becoming a reality: a world where humans no longer are necessary to operate a car. A world where “driving” becomes safer because, instead of leaving lives in the hands of flawed humans, we are trusting technology to calculate the best possible conditions. Technology communicating with one another to prevent collisions or even hail your car from miles away.
The technology information and the projections for the industry were super interesting, but what really drew me to this article, as a travel blogger, was the quick, passing mention that the writer, Matt Vella, made to appreciating the United States “Car Culture.” A love affair with cars that, with millennials, no longer exists. And I’ll admit that while I love road trips, I’m not passionate about cars. I drive a Corolla, and the only requirement I had when buying it is that it was low-mileage and I really wanted it to be grey. That ends my list of requirements for car buying. Could you imagine the same being true 50 years ago? I would have been laughed right off the car lot.
But I do love road trips! When I moved to Los Angeles from St. Louis, we traveled almost the entire distance of Route 66 (and before moving to Los Angeles, I traveled the St. Louis-t0-Chicago stretch of Route 66 many, many times. So for all intents and purposes, let’s say that I successfully completed Route 66…but in a few segmented journeys. Fair?) I had been dreaming of Route 66 for so long, and despite the fact that I was only able to spend four days driving it, it completely surpassed all I had dreamed for the country’s (world’s?) most iconic road trip. That’s where my love for road trips began, and it is a bug I have had a hard time getting rid of.
Since, I have taken many day trips of drives that took far longer than the time I had to explore the destination. Most recently, my trip to Yosemite, which required 12 hours of driving, round trip, for a day and a half of exploring the mountains, with a “full day’s” worth spent after sunset and only a “half day” in sunlight. It would be, what the hotel business would call “two-nights, one-day.” So I didn’t get to see all the amazing things that Yosemite had to offer, but that was easily overlooked for two obvious reasons:
- I had the opportunity to see Yosemite at all! It was an amazing experience and any time in Yosemite is time well spent. This short adventure reminded me of a trip I took in Switzerland to Zermatt, where I had spent 8 hours traveling round trip and was only able to spend 2 hours in Zermatt. It’s always worth it!
- The drive is half the fun of the trip! Along the way, we saw some amazing views of the beautiful mountains leaving Los Angeles. We became acquainted with Fresno and Bakersfield along the way. We even found this incredible little side-stop called Bravo Farms. It was a superb gift shop, lunch joint, antique shop, a seven-story tree house, and even chickens all in one!
Where would all this be without our car-culture? Isn’t the real reason for fun side-stops like Bravo Farms to give the driver a break from the road? If I could sleep the whole way to Yosemite, why would I stop at all? With the end of human-driven cars, we see the end of road trips as they are. While I can completely, totally, 100% support the safety benefits that comes with human-less driving, what I cannot fathom is the loss of road trips!
I am completely, embarrassingly afraid of driving in the city, and Los Angeles is by far the worst place for calm driving. I’ve been in one, car-destroying car wreck in my life and am grateful to have come out unharmed. Despite all these human errors that make driving terrifying, I couldn’t imagine my life without my drives around St. Louis or Los Angeles, without my road trip to Yosemite, or the one I have planned to San Diego and Big Sur. There are so many cons to human drivers, but there are so many pros to the American Road Trip.
Am I alone? Do the benefits outweigh the car-culture so heavily ingrained in our lives? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Self-driving car or no self-driving car?