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Ovation: In The Future, A Driver’s License Will Be A Thing Of The Past.


Getting a driver’s license is an American right of teenage passing.  While laws vary from state to state, and there are exceptions to every rule, most teens get a “learners’ permit” on or about their fifteenth birthday which allows them to practice their driving skills with an adult licensed driver present in the vehicle with them.  The process is usually two-fold … a written test and a behind-the-wheel exercise with a representative of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

I got my first drivers license back in the days of disco and bell bottoms … in a time where you had to turn a crank to roll down a window, cars didn’t always have seat belts, air conditioning didn’t exist and the radio only played AM or FM.  Cars had manual transmissions, paved roads were often a luxury and if your town had its own exit off the highway then you’d made it to the big time.

I never sat in a car behind the wheel until my very first day of Drivers Education class.  I was a nervous wreck.  I was confident that I knew all the rules of the road because I’d been studying the booklet for months, asking questions and (much to their chagrin) critiquing the driving skills of my parents.  The “Drivers Ed Car” held four people … an instructor and three students.  The class sessions were several hours long during white each of the students would take a turn behind the wheel while the other two would ride quietly in the back seat.  [Note:  These passengers would often squeeze their eyes closed, clench their fists or recite Hail Marys for the duration of their journey.]  I’ll never forget the day that Johnny B. was the first to drive and he backed right into the principal’s car.  He wasn’t the tallest boy in the class and, when he turned to look over his right shoulder to make certain that the coast was clear, we all learned what happens when your foot accidentally slides from the brake pedal to the gas pedal.

Soon, young drivers may not have to endure the training that we’ve all been through as cars are expected to become completely autonomous by the middle of the 21st century.  Experts at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers recently released predictions that driverless cars will account for up to seventy-five percent of vehicles on the road as soon as the year 2040.  This could mean that, eventually, traffic lights, speed limits and even driver licensing could disappear.  As satellite locations and computer software programs continue to evolve, cars will not only be able to locate obstacles, avoid them and follow the road, but they may very well communicate with each other to drive in groups to conserve fuel.

I received my driver’s license without incident.  I did quite well on the written test and the instructor for the behind-the-wheel portion didn’t ask me to parallel park.  I was so relieved!  Never, in my wildest dreams, did I think that someday cars would be able to park themselves.  Even The Jetsons had to steer their flying car and they lived far off into the future.

It’s hard to believe that teenagers in the future won’t even need a license to drive.

UPDATE 09/25/12: California Governor Jerry Brown signs Driverless Car Bill at Google Headquarters.

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Copyright © 2012

From → Ovations

  1. The Jetsons here we come!


  2. What will their parents hold over their heads?


  3. I remember the Jetsons – I used to watch the cartoon all the time! I passed my driver’s test on the first go even though I cut off a cop. After arriving back at the compound & parallel parking the examiner told me I had passed – I was astounded! He informed me he had seen me cut the cop off as I changed lanes, but the cop was apparently tailgating me & so I passed.


  4. Old skills become obsolete. I can still drive a standard, unlike a nearby failed car-jack attempter. I drove a motorcycle for years, but even they’re becoming automatic.


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