I remember as a child writing stories about robots, and imagining a future, similar in nature to what you would see, on the television show, ‘The Jetsons.’ While we may not have all of the technology dreamed up in science fiction shows, it seems to me like, we are living in an age similar to what was portrayed in those shows.
Let me start with the most recent news. Automaker, General Motors recently announced they have filed a safety petition with the US Department of Transportation to deploy a new self-driving vehicle in 2019. According to a press release from General Motors, the Cruise AV is “the first production-ready vehicle built from the start to operate safely on its own, with no driver, steering wheel, pedals or manual controls.” While a car that includes no steering wheel or pedals may be a scary idea to some, it is just one of the many signs that the future is now.
Already in several restaurants, there are the self-serve kiosks where people can place their food orders, forgoing the lines. Similar things have been seen in certain grocery stores, where people can scan and input what they are buying.
These days, people can control many things in their home with their smartphone, such as locking doors, setting their thermostat and turning on or off lights. As well, these days people can talk to their friends or family face to face from anywhere, with Skype or FaceTime. This is definitely like something you would see in a Jetson's cartoon.
Like what has been seen on some science fiction shows, Apple’s iPhone x includes facial recognition technology.
In a column I wrote last year, titled ‘Tech Dependent’, one of the points I made, on one of the negative aspects of the technology age, was that Email, instant messaging, as well as social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter have limited the amount of face to face interaction people have. This is likely to worsen as we move further into the technology age.
I think sometimes people tend to be constantly looking for what the next big thing is, they forget we are already basically living in the future science fiction writers imagined. Who knows what the next few years will bring us.
2018 is here, and despite being optimistic on what the year will bring, I am also concerned.
My concerns for this year can be grouped into one central theme, the safety of Ontario’s roads for drivers.
One of my concerns is that people are not getting the message about the dangers of drinking and driving.
Recently, I was shocked when I saw the statistics Durham Region police released, in early January, from their annual Festive R.I.D.E campaign. Despite stopping over 800 less cars than the previous year’s campaign, there were more people charged with drinking and driving offenses. 112 people were charged in 2017, up from 99 in 2016.
It baffles me that some people seem to think it's okay to drive after drinking, especially given how accessible information about the perils of drinking and driving is, in this day and age. It also makes me a little more afraid for all North Durham drivers.
However, drinking and driving is not the only driving trend I am concerned about.
Recently, in a video posted on his twitter account, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Sgt., Kerry Schmidt reported that there were 341 people killed in road collisions on roads patrolled by the OPP in 2017, which was an over 11 per cent increase from 2016.
He stated in the video that the highest percentage of accidents were “distracted or inattentive related collisions.” He also stressed that this is not limited to just cellphone use, but “all sorts of activities that are taking your attention away from driving.”
As a driver myself, I know that to drive safely you truly need to have “eyes in the back of your head” as the old saying goes. A driver being distracted for even a moment can lead to a fatal accident. Driving requires your 100 per cent attention and the fact that the OPP is reporting that distracted driving is still a top killer confirms this point.
I hope when we reach the end of this year, the statistics regarding drunk driving and distracted driving will represent a decrease from 2017. If nothing else, safer roads for all drivers, young and old, is something I hope to see in 2018.
Is a reporter for The Standard Newspaper, so if you see him, feel free to say hello. You can follow Dan on Twitter at @dancearnsy