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Courtesy & property of Mamchenkov, Flickr.

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Guest Commentary: Look, Ma, No Hands! 

I’ve loved the cars I’ve owned, and I’ve always loved driving, preferring to be the one behind the wheel instead of a passenger. So when I first read about driverless cars, I was appalled. I thought, “The day you get my steering wheel is when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!” The things that America stands for, democracy and freedom, are symbolized in part by that steering wheel and those four wheels and the wide open road.

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Jason Stahl has 15 years of experience as an editor, the last three serving as editor of BodyShop Business. He currently serves as an advisor to the Paint, Body and Equipment Specialists Committee of the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association and is a gold pin member of the Collision Industry Conference.rnr

Courtesy & property of Mamchenkov, Flickr.Just like most every red-blooded American, cars have played an important role in my life, from the time I first sat on my dad’s lap and shifted gears in his Triumph TR-7 to when I got my first car, a 1983 Chevy Cavalier.

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I’ll never forget when I got my first pedal car, which my dad had custom made with an “ignition” in it. I was handed a blue key on a keychain that had a red “J” for Jason on it, stuck it in the switch and turned, expecting to hear the roar of an engine. Alas, the car did not start, but the memory is indelibly etched into my mind. I remember buying my first red sports car, a 1998 Dodge Avenger that I absolutely loved. Unfortunately, it met its demise in 2005 thanks to some black ice.

I’ve loved the cars I’ve owned, and I’ve always loved driving, preferring to be the one behind the wheel instead of a passenger. So when I first read about driverless cars, I was appalled. I thought, “The day you get my steering wheel is when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!” The things that America stands for, democracy and freedom, are symbolized in part by that steering wheel and those four wheels and the wide open road.

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But the idea has been growing on me. How awesome would it be to set your destination, climb into the backseat of your vehicle, kick back with your newspaper and coffee and whoosh! Forty minutes (in my case) later, you’re at work. Think about all the dead time you waste driving and sitting at lights and stuck in traffic. That time could be put to better use: answering emails, for example. Wait, did I just add another two hours to my workday? Or how about using that time for more frivolous things like watching movies, playing video games or catching a few Zs? But wait a minute, some of my best ideas come when I’m zoned out driving. Taking that away would stifle my creativity.

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Clearly, I’m conflicted.

What are your thoughts? Would you let a car drive you? Drop me a line and let me know.

Jason Stahl is editor of AMN’s sister publication, BodyShop Business. He can be reached at [email protected].

 

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