Just as highways, once built, never freakiní disappear, suburban dwellers once stung by oil price surges will keep driving like theyíre undergoing torture ó as if they canít remove the maddening cranial implant until they have arrived at the tippy top of the master-planned delivery system known as 281.
They dance around on city lanes like opiate molecules bubbling up carotid arteries seeking that crowning ďpleasure centerĒ in the sky. Once loosed upon the freeways, all that jittering and tailgating in the quest for a few minutes more primetime-television-enhanced oblivion may be irritating to the rest of us, but, hey, itís not killing anyone.
Or not many anyones, anyway.
A recent Department of Transportation study found that itís not speeders out there creating chaos on the blacktop ó itís people driving off the road. People sleeping. People having heart attacks. Stupid stuff.
After that, blame the cell phone users (and mobile meditators) who refuse to pass the bleary-headed bluehairs, compounding the left-hand laneís lethargy.
And while thoughts of a world of hopped-up piston pushers bends the throttle in each of our hearts to the far side of reverie, there are a number of factors that suggest even if we could eliminate the bad drivers, daydreamers, phone talkers, and foggy old folks, we wouldnít be able to enjoy a high-octane existence for long.
Americans drive more than any other nationality. Nationally, youíll find several Texas cities (including Alamo City) at the top of that list. And, though I hate to break it like this, itís those long road miles that create our daydreamers, sleeping drivers, and foggy old folks, though at varying rates of return. Itís built into the system. (I wonít even allow myself the pleasure of preening over declining global oil supplies / clean-water spoiling run-off from our roadways / heat, exhaust, sickness, death curling from the machineís tailpipe, and the like.)
But thereís a partial-though-unlikely solution: driverless cars. Youíve seen them on NOVA. Youíve read about them in Popular Mechanics. Now you can enjoy the unobstructed view through the windshield right here in San Antonio, all courtesy of the Southwest Research Institute.
I donít know where all this is leading. I just know: You can take away our right to marry children. You can put a limit on the speeds we drive our child brides over the rabbit humps of the Hill Country. You can even stop us from smoking cigarettes and downing bottles of whiskey with our child brides as we shimmy on and off the pavement back on Cemetery Road. But you (you, over there, faceless bureaucrat!) will never stop us from shifting into low gear as we twist our tires around an oil-stained hairpin turn with our headlights out as we spill our liquor on our child bride, swallow a mouthful of vomit, push our tongue into her ear, and race into the on-coming set of high-set halogen bulbs.
Or I donít think you will. Though you probably have some sort of moral obligation to try.
So, anyway, if you want to watch the driverless vehicle promo video, jes click it.