Hello everyone, Tristan from the Check Engine Podcast. In my first, introductory blog post, I wanted to discuss something that most older “car people” have spent a lot of brain power on nearly whenever they have had a chance: What about kids these days?! Cars are becoming more and more hands off from both a maintenance perspective and an actual driving perspective. It is easy to see a future in which kids… never learn how to drive. A conversation I have had with my own father several times through the years centers on the fact that, when I was a kid, despite not having adaptive cruise control (much less “piloted” or self driving cars) many of my generation were, let’s be nice here, um… reluctant drivers? Even to this day, adults well into their twenties and thirties are just now getting their driver's’ licenses. These are people that grew up alongside me, and I can see where the worry was coming from when I was younger. As we discussed in our very first episode, the first car is an icon of the young, American experience. The fear is that it will soon not be. I’m here to say, “There is no fear when you’re having fun”. I’m not here to say it FIRST, Will Thomas (an American novelist) said it first. I am here to say it again, though. And here’s why:
To sound like the put upon Millenial for JUST a second, we are the fear generation. Our parents berated us to fear drugs, sex, strangers, gluten, EVERYTHING. Now, it’s not to say that others haven’t also heard those messages. The amazing thing about all generations is their ability to take what is shown to them and think for themselves. One of those “reluctant drivers” is sitting behind this keyboard, writing a blog post, for a website run by a CAR PODCAST. The biggest reason for that? Cars are fun. Much like many of the other things in this list, our parents (as a generation, not mine in particular) led us to believe that driving was dangerous. Don’t make any mistake, it is. We all know that now. But just like the other things in that list of frightful things at the beginning of this paragraph, what else is it? Fun. Well, except for strangers. They can be fun, but they can also be just weird.
Sorry, the metaphor only goes so far.
This is the reason that I do not think we will ever see a generation of non-drivers. The exact details of driving may change. Not everyone uses a manual transmission anymore. Myself among them. I kind of know how, but I don’t use one on the regular. That doesn’t mean that I can’t still have fun in a car. Ask anyone who’s driven with me in my base model, CVT-equipped Subaru Outback. As long as car companies keep making cars that excite and interest people, we will still see generations of drivers. My crystal ball is nowhere near clear enough to tell you what that type of driving will look like, but I feel confident in saying that we will never see driving, in some form, go away entirely.
You may be wondering what sent me down this particularly heavy train of thought for my first blog post. It was, appropriately, a child. Walking through the Pick n’ Save grocery store parking lot, the tiniest of children, no more than probably 4 or 5, wearing bear-printed pajama pants, holding his mother’s hand hurled this lightning bolt of hope at me out of the blue. A distant rumble of a V8 perked both his ears and mine. As the car in question rolls around the corner, my brain lets out a big “meh”. A plain, red, late 90’s Mustang. Nothing all that special. The child, though? He practically jumped out of his rain boots and exclaimed, “MUSTANG!” in the loudest tiny voice possible. That. That right there is why I don’t fear for a driverless future.