Hagerty Town Hall Meeting
A panel of automotive experts were asked to speak their thoughts on the future of driving at a town hall meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona. The event was hosted by Hagerty, specialty insurance provider for classic vehicles, and the topic was “Why Driving Matters”.
These automotive experts included Bob Lutz, former vice chairman and head of product development at General Motors, McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty, and Wayne Carini, host of Velocity TV’s “Chasing Classic Cars.” The point of this panel was to discuss the future of driving in an era of optimistic uncertainly for autonomous vehicles.
As driving enthusiasts, it’s easy to ponder on the worst case scenario and allow the imagination to run flat-out with paranoia. That one day the government will step in and take away our Driver’s license – for our own safety. But as this panel discussed, level 5 autonomous vehicles are still decades away. More importantly, millions of Americans still want to keep driving right now.
“There’s no need to panic, the transition to the future is going to take some time.”
– Bob Lutz
The technology isn’t what will take decades to achieve. We’ve seen in the last 20 years just how fast it can develop, grow, and how we as a public can adapt to it. The delay will be the transitional periods between the first fully-autonomous vehicle and the day we forget how we got along without them.
New traffic laws dealing with autonomous vehicles, insurance companies figuring out new scenarios involved, and city infrastructure are just some of the obstacles that will take time.
All panelists agreed that the benefits of autonomous technology will save lives, improve commutes, and open the air ways of urban congestion. This might mean banning people from driving inside major cities. Much like the horse was slowly phased out as the king of the road once automobiles became more mainstream in the public domain.
But, what about the open road? Any idea that one day all major interstates and highways will be fully autonomous is still far beyond the horizon. Bob Lutz states that the federal government may never tell us when we can no longer drive, but they might tell us where we can’t.
Wayne Carini focused on the aspect of classic cars being the savor for the art of driving. Both Hagerty and Carini shared opinions on why they love classic vehicles. The romance behind being able to look after a machine.
“Cars are so important for all of us. The automobile is in its infancy, it’s a little over 100 years. Being able to repair cars, you become part of the automobile and the industry, and it’s so cool.”
– Wayne Carini
So Why Does Driving Matter?
Take away the necessity of being a means of getting from point A to B and what are you left with? You are left with a skill that grows over time. A therapeutic way to work with your hands that can rival most outdoor leisure activities in a Sporting Goods store. A hobby that so many turn into a career and lifestyle. A vessel to pour memories and sentiment into. A way to detox the heart, mind, and soul from digital ads and thumb scrolling. Most importantly, its freedom.
“I’m a different person when I’m behind the wheel not paying attention to my digital device.”
– McKeel Hagerty
The irony with modern cars is through their devoted efforts to keep us safe that are actually taking away the sensation of freedom behind the wheel. We become dependent on their safety features to carry the slack for our driving errors. We become more distracted, make more mistakes, and still have car accidents.
Anyone who drives older cars will tell you that some of the beauty is in the danger. There are no fall backs when it comes to classic cars. You take your life into your own hands, literally.
You pay attention because you know everyone else around you isn’t. It’s easier to ignore your phone because the dashboard isn’t constantly notifying you about it under the excuse that it’s preventing a distraction. You focus on the task at hand.
A Car Enthusiast Dream for an Autonomous Future.
Classic cars are like vinyl records on wheels. You can’t just push a button and set off. They require patience, care, knowledge, and love. What many die-hard car enthusiasts hope for is that autonomous vehicles will leave the open roads available for those that want them.
Anyone who doesn’t care about driving and always viewed it as a chore will one day be able to push a button and read their tablet while traveling to work. We may also have to one day follow that routine, but on the weekends we will have miles of open highway to use as our own motoring paradises.
“There will be a spawning of motor sports parks all over the country, just like golf courses.”
– Bob Lutz
Hagerty created a forum for people to comment on their thoughts on why driving matters and the unwritten future that awaits it. They also plan on hosting more town hall meetings across the country to gain a census on how the public feels about driving.
You can watch the full town hall meeting on Hagerty’s website.
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