When we published E-Newsletter #520, The Next Ten Years, on December 30, 2018 with predictions from some NMA and NMA Foundation directors of the challenges that the NMA and motoring public are going to face over the next decade, we encouraged readers to provide their insights. And boy, have you. We currently have enough material for two reader feedback editions. This is Part 1. Part 2 will follow next week.
As a senior citizen in my 80s I have been a motorist for over sixty years and point out that numbers of elderly drivers are on the increase. Care must be taken to assure that senior drivers are not discriminated against either because of age or by the invisible threat of being overwhelmed with increasingly complex new technology.
Progress is easy, but becomes a challenge for many seniors. As an example, my wife purchased a 2019 automobile with so many electronic features that I refuse to drive it and am concerned that all the technology of late model cars poses a significant risk of inducing driver distraction to many drivers.
It’s easy for society to become overly enthused about new technology while forgetting that some of its members may be increasingly challenged by it. Consideration of the needs and abilities of those motorists must not be ignored nor plowed under in the push for progress. Advances in technology must not be allowed to create unnecessary obstacles for older drivers who may be overwhelmed by them.
The environment in which motorists operate must accommodate all drivers and not discriminate against those drivers whose skill level and experience it makes obsolete. The headlong rush for technology must not take precedence over the safety and ability of the aging motorist population.
— Steve, NY member
I believe the real issue confronting motorists and motorcyclists currently is infrastructure. We need more, and perhaps dual-tiered, roads for a growing population. State DOTs need to better accommodate lighter weight traffic and motorcycles, perhaps through the use of smart lanes.
— Keith Ball, California member
The biggest challenge NMA faces is making sure that the general public ultimately decides policies, free of entrapment, privacy denial, etc. There are four realms where this is, and will continue to be, an issue.
The first is automatic law enforcement, such as speed and red-light cameras. The people do not want this. It is nothing but a moneymaker for the government, and does not improve safety. In the meantime, what WILL improve safety is being ignored.
The second is connected cars. We get them whether we want them or not. They invade the privacy of owners, and report sensitive information to the governmental enemy that will use this information against us.
The third is autonomous cars. Nobody is asking the general public whether we want to share the road with these vehicles. They simply do not have the mental capabilities of humans, and they are unpredictable, especially to the human drivers who share the roads with them. In fact, I have already decided to avoid driving where they are allowed.
Finally, what may seem like a side issue: legalization of recreational marijuana. Those in favor want the “right” to stone themselves silly, and far too many of them are perfectly willing to drive and endanger the rest of us. Here again, I choose not to drive where this is legal. We do not owe it to anyone to legalize self-destructive acts, which reach even into homes where children are the victims.
Good luck fighting these dragons. We are going to need it.
— Pat, Arizona member
Mr. Walker nailed the key issue: “…posted limits have become disrespected and little more than warnings of potential ticketing risk.”
Most freeway speed limits seem to be set about 10 – 15 MPH below what is safe. Fortunately, most drivers recognize this and travel at the 85th percentile speed. Unfortunately, some drivers take the artificially low limits at face value, drive to those limits, and thereby impede efficient traffic flow, especially on two lane roads.
I believe the problem boils down to a policy balance between protecting people for their own good vs. trusting them to use good judgment. Many traffic authorities err on the side of conservatism, so speed limits have migrated too far toward the former policy.
— Brian, Pennsylvania member