This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

The end of having to learn to drive a car

As someone who was born in the 20th Century, I learned to drive a car. Like most people that I know, I take great pride in my ability to operate this type of heavy machinery. Of course, it's really the only type of heavy machinery that most people learn to operate. I have used a lawn mower, but that's not really all that close. I have never driven a tractor, nor have I ever used a chain saw. Operating heavy machinery, you know, the kind that you shouldn't use if you're taking cold medication, was never was part of my life. And the future without the need for ordinary people to operate heavy machinery is finally on its way, with self-driving cars.

In case you never noticed it, ordinary people never got very good at operating heavy machinery. That is, cars. For the past 100 years, people have been killing each other with them. Yes, there are a handful of really good drivers, just like there are people who know how to use chain saws safely, but they're in the minority. Most people are just not that good at driving, even people who think that they are.

I will live to see the end of this strange requirement for ordinary people to handle heavy machinery. Getting a driver's license has been around for generations, so much so that most people never give it a second thought. It's as if when we turn 16, we are told that we have to operate a chain saw - except that it's a 2,000-pound one, and we have to memorize a complex array of rules and regulations, and take it out on the road with a bunch of other people who really don't know what to do, either.

Future generations will wonder what this nonsense was all about. Nowadays we take it for granted that everyone will have to learn to operate heavy machinery. Our lives seem to revolve around driving. Our identification is a driver's license. Everyone I know has been involved in some type of major collision with a car. Some people's lives have changed, some people have died. It's a cost that, in my lifetime, has always been accepted without thinking. But that is all about to change.

Ordinary people like me shouldn't be operating heavy machinery, even when we're not taking cold medication. And if the near future, it will just be another thing that people did in the past.