Hands off the Steering Wheel

The other day I needed to drive across town to pick up a parcel. The depot was in a part of town that I don’t normally visit so, as usual, I secured the phone in the hands-free cradle and let Google tell me what to do. I had two choices,via the motorway or via the back streets. I chose the backstreets simply because the first set of lights made it a minute quicker.

As I drove I reflected that Google must have chosen those routes knowing the traffic profile and time of day. Otherwise how could it have got the timing of arrival so accurate.

As I drove, the streets were empty and strange. These were streets that I had never seen before and would never have visited any other way. What would I have done without Google? I would have used a map. Taken the motorway and taken the closest exit ramp then used the map from there rather than the complex route Google chose. I’d have been another car on the motorway clogging it up. As I looked around, I saw all this unused infrastructure – empty streets when the motorway was probably loaded with cars.

Auckland has a traffic problem. The motorways clog up too quickly and here I was on empty streets. Perhaps the answer is Google, Google maps and driver-less cars. Take the choice away from people. They put in a destination and Google gets them there – no choices, Google decides the route. That way all this infrastructure gets used more efficiently. Don’t build more roads, just better use the ones that we have.

The fine of the future “driver had his hands on the steering wheel.

This is great inspiration for a short story, one that I would like to call, “Just Drive.” Perhaps one day I will write it. Rebellion against authority by doing something we currently take for granted. But which is right, using infrastructure effectively or the freedom of choice to sit, crawling, on the motorway?

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