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It’s Automatic

The latest trend in automobile design is cars that will park themselves.

I understand why this feature is so attractive. Parallel parking is a very complex operation. It involves using mirrors, backing up, steering, knowing exactly where all four corners of the vehicle are, and manoeuvring the car in a restricted space. In short, it requires all of the skills required to drive a car. Drivers who can’t parallel park probably aren’t very good at some other aspects of driving either.

I learned of a case recently in which a man sued a municipality for placing a parking meter on the sidewalk, which his vehicle hit while it was parking itself. The case is before the courts, which must determine who is at fault for the accident. Is it the municipality for placing the parking meter on the sidewalk? Is it the automobile manufacturer which designed a car incapable of seeing parking meters when parallel parking? Is it the responsibility of the insurance company, which should therefore have to pay for the repairs?

One thing is certain. It is not the responsibility of the man, the supposed driver of the car. He was just along for the ride.

This is a parable of our times. We have abdicated personal responsibility and handed over responsibility for our lives to the machine.


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