July 22, 2017


Review: 'The Long Haul: A Trucker's Tales of Life on the Road' by Finn Murphy (Joseph Bottum, July 22, 2017, Free Beacon)

Since the completion of the interstate highway system, we have paid for transportation--and paid a lot: 40,200 deaths last year, up 6 percent from the 37,757 automotive fatalities of the year before. By a huge margin, car wrecks are the leading accidental cause of death in America. Year after year, we hurtle down the road in multi-ton machines and smear our blood across the asphalt. [...]

All that will change over the next 20 or 30 years, as driverless, computerized transportation settles into a mature technology. From the initial stages of allowing driverless vehicles on our roads, we will eventually begin passing laws that only driverless vehicles should be allowed on the road. The fatality rate will fall, and our cars will take us from place to place in joyless safety--carefully recording everywhere we've gone for the databases of the businesses that want to sell us stuff and the governments that may want to investigate us. The system of driverless cars will be safer and duller, a more controlled, constrained, and constricted world.

Along the way, it will also be a world that will have lost a few million of the blue-collar, immigrant, and entry-level jobs we currently have. Once the technology reaches a sufficient level, the driverless taxi, the driverless delivery van, and the driverless semi-trailer truck will overtake the old chauffeured system of transportation, putting enormous pressure on state governments to outlaw human-driven professional vehicles.

And then, all too soon, the culture of driving will fade from the experience of all but a few anachronistic hobbyists. As alien as the whaling in Moby-Dick now seems--as alien as the sailing ships in Two Years Before the Mast--so will seem the central narrative feature of On the Road. 

Indeed, all literature before the 1920s.

Posted by at July 22, 2017 1:10 PM