When you fail to notice the light is red – and a cop sees you fail to notice it – the cop will probably chase you down and hand you a piece of paper that says you owe the government money. This is done – so the government says – Because Safety. Because it is potentially dangerous to run a red light.
This is true.
It is also true that when a car has no driver it can run a red light with impunity – at least insofar as the “ticket,” as those extortion notes handed to car drivers who fail to notice the light was red.
In San Francisco, California, driverless cars are exempt from traffic tickets of all kinds. They may legally do as they please – and the cops won’t – because they can’t – do anything about it.
According to a Dec. 30 NBC article, “Driverless cars have been documented running red lights, blocking emergency responders and swerving into construction zones.” Kind of like the Johnny Cab that took Arnold Schwarzenegger for a ride back in the ’80s, in the movie Total Recall.
“I think all of us are still struggling to understand whether [driverless cars] really are safer than human drivers and in what ways they might not be,” says Irina Raicu, the director of the Internet Ethics program at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.
How about when they disregard the traffic laws we’re obliged to obey – and are punished for disregarding?
“It seems like while they make fewer of the kind of mistakes that we see from human drivers, they make interesting new kinds of mistakes,” Raicu said. “It has the feel of a human subject mass experiment, right? Without the kind of consent that we usually want to see as part of that.”
“In California, traffic tickets can be written only if there is an actual driver in the car,” the NBC piece explains. “An internal memo from San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott, obtained by the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit, instructs officers that no citation for a moving violation can be issued if the [autonomous vehicle] is being operated in a driverless mode.”
Isn’t it great?
“The DMV recognizes that autonomous technology is an evolving technology and remains committed to enhancing the regulatory structure to reflect the continued development of the technology . . . the DMV encourages all interested parties to participate in future workshops and rulemaking processes to help inform and shape the regulations related to the safe operations of autonomous vehicles in California.”
It reads like a Biden Thing press conference about the Great Success in Ukraine, doesn’t it? Not a word devoted to addressing the issue at hand but many evasive words effused to sidetrack the discussion to issues that have nothing to do with the issue at hand.
At least one human pedestrian has already been hit by a car sans driver in San Francisco. But the car that did it didn’t even get a ticket – as any of us would have, had we done the same. It seems we are responsible for what we do behind the wheel but when no one’s behind the wheel, no one’s responsible.
Not the regulators who green-lighted the deployment of driverless cars. Not the companies that built and programmed them, such as Cruise and Waymo. This is a fascinating example of government dissonance. One the one hand, the government is obsessively concerned (or so it feigns) with risk-aversion, even to the extent of intolerance for any risk – however hypothetical and irrespective of how much it costs.
Examples are legion but include the obsessive risk-aversion that manifested during the event marketed as a “pandemic,” when people who weren’t sick were presumed to be “asymptomatic spreaders” – as well as the recent crippling fines imposed upon diesel engine manufacturer Cummins on the basis of gnat-burping-in-the-Superdome “emissions” differences in allowable quantities of oxides of nitrogen.
Yet when a cop sees a driver not wearing a seat belt – an act that entails essentially zero risk to anyone else – the cop will chase that driver down and hand him the extortion note styled a “ticket.” If a driver is pecking at his cell phone (including the one built into the dashboard of his car) and for that reason fails to notice the light changing from green to red and runs into someone, he will get more than a ticket.
So why are cars without drivers given the green light – and a pass?
We all know why. It is the same reason why the government doesn’t express much concern about the inherent risk of EVs spontaneously catching fire. The ends justify the means.
And we all know what the ends are.
They want us out of cars. And – failing that – do not want us behind the wheel. Hence the pass given to battery-powered devices that drive themselves.
. . .
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