Friday, December 23, 2016

On the road again

It's getting close to Christmas, so we think of what's happening on the roads because we're trying to get to the family gatherings and so forth.  At least there's no forecast for snow in the Baltimore area this year at the holidays.  

(Which makes me wonder how, in all those Hallmark Christmas movies, there is always snow on the ground and on the roads, and yet, people get in their cars and go places. It's clear that they don't film them in Baltimore, where the very suggestion of snow three days hence sends people into a panic. They flock to the groceries for bread, milk and toilet paper, and then stay home "for the duration."  Can't drive on a road with snow on it, after all.)

But this news stopped me cold: (from
Driverless cars could be coming to Interstate 95 if Maryland transportation officials have their way. The Maryland Department of Transportation announced Wednesday that it has asked the federal Transportation Department to use the I-95 corridor to test autonomous vehicles. Federal officials are looking for several “proving grounds” around the country for self-driving cars. Maryland officials have suggested using I-95 between the University of Maryland to the south and Aberdeen Proving Ground to the north. The first group of testing areas for driverless cars will be announced in early 2017. If Maryland is chosen, the earliest I-95 would see driverless cars would be 2018.

I colored that text red because it's certainly a red-letter day for people around I-95 who own body and fender repair shops, orthopedic medical practices, and law firms centering on auto accidents, to think of this business bonanza coming their way. 

If you've had the previous misfortune of driving I-95, the superslab that takes people from New England to Florida (even if they don't want to go), at least in the Baltimore area, I can testify that you have been in vehicle hell.  18-wheelers taking turns on 9 wheels! Crotchrocket motorcycles racing around like demons! Tailgaters galore! Ill-advised lane changes! Speeders going 85, and - almost worse - pokers doing 35! And drivers from other states driving like nuts!

And that's just on the entrance ramp.  Lord knows what the highway itself is like, I'll tell you that right now.

I see no way that life will be better when the science fair veterans behind the idea of autonomous (sounds better than "driverless") vehicles are causing mayhem from Florida to New England.  

I can't even think about it.  But I can tell you this, as we head into Christmas weekend. This was not on the news or anything, but it just so happened that on December 14 there was a traffic accident in the Riderwood section of our fair county, and the older couple whose SUV was smashed up expressed concern that the Christmas tree they had on their roof and were taking home at the time would not make it home, with the car being towed away. Soooo...the crew of Truck 1 from Towson Fire Station, D Shift, who had responded to the scene, took the Christmas tree, put it on their rig, and dropped it off at the peoples' house.

They could have shrugged and said, "Yeah, too bad," but they didn't, and I hope that little nugget sends you off happy today! 

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