America is very big, and getting from one city to another takes a long-ass time. This means a lot of shitty, shitty highway driving.
I spent 7 hours in a 2013 Golf GTi yesterday driving from Orlando to Atlanta. It is a fine car, the weather was mostly good, there was little construction and traffic was manageable...and I was bored to tears. My friend reclined the seat and proceeded to nap/fart his way to the Georgia line. Why couldn't I nap and fart too? To entertain myself I went around the horn on XM like 5 times and noted every broken down car I could find on Waze.
I love driving when I get to drive, but stuff like this, and my daily commute, I could use the option of kicking on the autopilot for a while. Frighteningly, the only thing that enlivens this kind of drive for me is speed. Then I'm having fun when driving again. For better or worse, I have developed the self control to keep things reasonable, safe...and boring.
There's a difference between long drives and road trips - road trips are casual, multi-day affairs. They're taken at a calmer pace and you usually have friends to trade off your driving duties every few hours, or whenever you get to the Biggest Ball of Twine or whatever.
Long drives are just long drives. They are usually on a tighter time frame, and they are generally tedious, which is why so many Americans long for self-driving cars.
So what's going to be lost when we switch to driverless vehicles? What do you enjoy about long driving? In this day when you still have to hold onto a steering wheel and look out a windshield to keep a car pointing straight on the Interstate, what are the positives?
Photo Credit: Raphael Orlove