Driverless Cars, ‘Bill of Rights,’ PIE 2016
The parking industry has been a tad panicked over driverless cars. OMG! Once they take over, there will be no need for on-street parking, certainly much fewer off-street spaces (with Lyft and Uber leading the way), and who knows what other disasters lurking around their software-driven innards.
Stephen Hill, a Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, writing at the Observer.com (“Why Driverless Cars Will Screech to a Halt,” Feb. 9), has given us “a reality check.” To wit:
Despite how much Uber CEO Travis Kalanick likes to crow about “our driverless future,” outside of ‘The Jetsons,’ this one is… not…happening … soon. Besides the remaining technological challenges, the liability and regulatory issues involved in letting a 3,000-pound death machine steer itself with no human at the controls are huge...
He goes on:
Not surprisingly, a 2015 survey by IEEE, a technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for humanity, of more than 200 experts in the field of autonomous vehicles found that of six possible roadblocks to the mass adoption of driverless vehicles, the three biggest obstacles are legal liability, policymakers and consumer acceptance. Cost, infrastructure and technology were seen as the least of the problems. ...
Consider the questions the insurance companies must ask. In the event of an accident who is to blame? The vehicle’s owner? He wasn’t driving. The manufacturer? The company that wrote the software? What company is going to take on that kind of risk? All it takes is a tiny software bug and BAM, you have bought the farm.
Consider the fact that when we drive, we make thousands of little decisions each trip. Most are unconscious, but some brush up against the law, and even break it. What about driving over a double yellow line to go around a double-parked UPS truck? How many times have you broken that little law and done so in perfect safety?
Who is going to accept responsibly for a self-driving vehicle programmed to break the law? Is the car just going to sit there while UPS decides which package goes where? Let your mind wander. There are tons of situations where we make perfectly reasonable decisions to break driving laws. Can a self-driving vehicle do that?
Hill writes that Audi says totally self-driving cars are 20 to 30 years away. Most predict that they will be most reliable on interstates and most likely be self-driving semi-trailer trucks. I’m sure the Teamsters will have something to say about that.
The devil is in the details. And the details surrounding self-driving vehicles go far beyond the technology issues. The press, Elon Musk, Google, Uber and BMW may think they are on the cusp, but those pesky details will slow this giant leap for mankind.
California Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) has proposed a state “Parking Bill of Rights.” A news release from his office listed these “rights”:
Maintaining the law that tickets cannot be issued at broken meters. This law will expire at the end of 2016, and Gatto is looking to extend it.
Once street cleaning is finished, parking spots would immediately become available to drivers.
Valet attendants would not be able to tell drivers they couldn’t use metered spots or loading zones.
The implementation of demand-based pricing at meters, where meters would be cheaper at times when demand is low. This is already in effect in some areas of LA, including downtown and Westwood Village.
If a car was illegally parked because of a crime and it wasn’t the car owner’s fault, tow companies would have a harder time fining the owner. For example, if someone steals your car, takes it for a ride and then ditches it somewhere where it’s illegal to park, tow companies wouldn’t be able to slap you with a huge bill.
Cities would not be allowed to hire private companies to work as “parking bounty hunters.”
We issue tickets at broken meters because we can’t collect fees with a broken meter. I rather like this “Right.” Let people park at broken meters and motivate the city to fix the meters. I realize that some feel that the wily motorist will simply jam the meter and then claim it’s broken. That could be handled with “warnings” given to such parkers. And after so many warnings, they get a ticket anyway.
I love the idea that once the street sweeper goes by, the populace can park on the street. But just how do you adjudicate this? If I see the sweeper go by, I will park. But if I didn’t see it go by, how will I know? I can see numerous arguments with the enforcement staff being generated over this one.
Valet attendants can’t use spaces in front of businesses. Huh –
just how are they supposed to provide the valet service? This one is a non-starter.
Demand-based pricing? Sure, bring it on. I’m not sure how this benefits the parker, except to raise the fee he pays during high-traffic times, but at least it will keep Don Shoup happy.
Of course, a car owner shouldn’t have to pay parking fines when a car is stolen. Duh!
But I love the last one: What, exactly, are “parking bounty hunters?” Are they enforcement staff, or are they collection agencies used to collect overdue citations? In either case, this, too, is a non-starter.
I think our assemblyman needs to get some parking folks involved in his “bill of rights.” Many ideas are nice on paper, but crumble when put in practice.
We were gratified by the turnout and the excitement generated by PIE 2016 last month in Las Vegas. It truly was a fantastic 20th birthday party for Parking Today, and a great experience for attendee and exhibitor alike.
We have printed pictures and comments about the show elsewhere in this issue. See you next year back in Chicago.