New cars do lots of things cars didn’t do in the past – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Convenience has its merits.
But what about pre-emption?
Cars once did as they were told by their owners – and no more. If you didn’t want the doors to lock or the lights to come on they didn’t – until you locked them or turned them on. You could spin the tires – and lock up the brakes – as you liked.
New cars take those choices away from you – like a parent schooling a child.
It is about to get much worse.
Volvo – which is not-coincidentally owned by the control-freak Chinese – intends to include an upgraded version of its “Volvo on Call” technology in its cars within the next couple of years. What it means is that your Volvo will make a call – about your driving. If the car doesn’t like it – based on data gleaned from sensors which monitor how you drive – the car will slow itself down and park. Where you’ll wait until the car decides to let you drive again.
Volvo isn’t the only car company intending to install such technology, either. In fact most cars sold since about 2015 already have the technology to monitor – and stymie – your driving.
Soon, they may have even more technology.
New Mexico Senator Tom Udall – along with Senator Rick Scott of Florida – are “calling” for a new federal law (see here) requiring that all new cars be equipped with passive and active technology to prevent the car from being driven – and stop it while it’s being driven – if sensors detect the presence of alcohol, the amount of that presence tunable to nil by the government-corporate nexus.
Right now, the legal threshold defining presumptive “drunk” driving in most states is a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08 – but several states – such as Utah – want to lower it to .05 or even less. For those under the legal age to drink alcohol, which is 21, any alcohol – even if not actually in the person – constitutes “drunk” driving if it is found inside the car, under “zero tolerance” laws in every state.
Of course, the laws above are antiquated in that they require the overt act before punishment is imposed. No state has yet required that a person who hasn’t been convicted of DWI be required to have alcohol detectors – and ignition interlocks – built into his vehicle just in case he might attempt to drive after drinking.
So old fashioned! The guilty might escape – so let’s make sure the innocent don’t.
That, at any rate, seems to be the thinking of Inner Party members Udall and Scott and (of course) Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which has become Mothers Against Drinking – period.
Which may have merit but then one could just as easily “call” – as they style it – for the abolition of all these distracting touchscreens in cars, which could almost certainly be proved a hazard to concentration at least equal to having had a single beer, glass of wine or mixed drink with dinner – the amount of alcohol sufficient to approach the .05 BAC standard.
Probably more of a hazard, since alcohol may blur one’s vision – when consumed in large quantities – but doesn’t make you take your eyes off the road, as using a touchscreen necessarily does.
“The issue has a real urgency to it,” Udall asserts – though where the “urgency” he says exists is emanating from is hard to divine. To borrow a phrase delivered once upon a time by The Chimp: Rarely is the question asked . . . If something is such a needful and good idea, why is it necessary to force it on people?
Breathalyzers in cars used to be forced on people who had at least been convicted of drunk driving. Udall and Scott want to convict everyone a priori – and punish proactively. He is the secular reincarnation of 13th century papal legate Arnaud Amalric who, when stymied by the problem of the Cathar “heretics” having holed up in a town full of Catholics in good standing ululated – in Latin – Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.
This is the new legal standard in what’s still called America but no longer is. If someone’s a problem, make everyone pay for it. Even if there isn’t a problem – make them all pay for it. There is money in it. And control. Irresistible catnip to people such as Udall, et al.
“The industry is often resistant to new mandates,” Udall told Reuters. “We want their support but we need to do this whether or not we have it.”
Italics added to emphasize the fangs bared.
This will almost certainly not be necessary, though as the industry hasn’t been “resistant” to new mandates since the mid-’90s, when it made the cynical – and profitable – determination that it could make more money by forcing people to buy the mandated things. Air bags alone have increased the profit margin on every new car by at least $1,000.
In fact, the industry anticipates the mandates – and de facto imposes them before they become de jure.
Examples include Automated Emergency Braking, which has become unavoidable almost in a new car but isn’t – yet – federally mandated.
Who’s “we,” by the way? Udall and Scott really mean they.
If the Udall-Scott bill becomes law, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will decree “rules for advanced vehicle alcohol detection devices” by 2024.
How will “alcohol” be “detected”? Via touch – sensors built into the surfaces of steering wheels, gear selectors and possibly door handles – and via sampling of the air inside the car. One assumes the sensors will (somehow) be savvy enough to separate the exhalations of passengers from those of drivers.
Eye movements will also be monitored for signs of “distraction” or “drowsiness” – the parameters established by those who program the technology.
Those parameters will, of course, be both arbitrarily set as well as set at a threshold of low and paralyzingly idiotic pre-emption – in the manner of Automated Emergency Braking and Lane Keep Assist, which “assist” when it isn’t needed or wanted by jamming on the brakes when attempting to pass a slowpoke and jerking the steering wheel in the direction opposite the driver’s chosen path if he hasn’t signaled his intention first.
Our choices are being winnowed to nil by the government-corporate nexus. New cars are becoming holding cells for prisoners who haven’t been charged with anything but who are nonetheless treated as such – and who are increasingly under the omnipresent supervision of electronic see-eye guards, who stand ready to “correct” them for deviating in the slightest from The Rules.
There is probably going to be a tremendous market for older cars – those made before the early 2000s – that operate under our control, which leave the choices to us and don’t scold (or punish) us for not doing things that aren’t anyone else’s business.
Better get one before the rush.
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