A majority of Americans say they have enough time to look at their phones and stuff for five or six hours a day but not for the seven or eight hours a day that they’d like, and driverless cars could solve that problem for them, a poll shows.
“I have friends who make comments and stuff on Twitter that I don’t like to miss when I’m making a left turn or a right turn,” says April Barnett, a manicurist in Tucson, Ariz. She says she’d like to have her car do more driving so she can keep up with her friends when she’s behind the wheel. “Like last week, my friend Ashleigh posted a video of her eating cake with her boyfriend at a restaurant and it came to me, like, when I was parking or something. I could have liked it right away but I couldn’t because, you know, the car’s not going to park itself.”
That might change once driverless cars become the norm. John Peterson says he sometimes texts people while driving and he knows that’s not right. “I should wait, but I like to respond to stuff right away, especially when it’s a friend, because they might be sending me a picture of the beer they’re drinking or it might be bunch of them standing in front of a bar or something and doing something stupid.”
In the poll, conducted by North American Research Analytics for the Gannett Company, 62 percent of respondents said they would definitely read and send texts while driving if they didn’t have to steer or stop and start the car themselves while going somewhere. Another 59 percent said they would watch videos or play Words with Friends or other social games if their car handled the driving itself.
“I kinda like driving but sometimes it’s a pain,” says Cole Taylor, a graduate student in communications at the University of New Mexico. “If your car is, like, stopping at stop signs and changing lanes for you, why not catch up on what’s going on in the world?”
Taylor added that, ever since Donald Trump ran for president and then won, there has been a lot more news he wants to stay up on. “Are we going to go to war with North Korea? Are we going to pull out of the Iran agreement? These are important issues that I like to stay abreast of and I might miss a development if I’m, you know, driving to work or something. Sure, I can get caught up at work, but if I can get all that while I’m driving, I can save a lot of time.”
Americans also say they might date more if they have a driverless car because they can scan new people who meet their preferences while driving rather than wait until they’re stopped somewhere.
“I met this one girl who I thought was going to be a dud and she was,” says Taylor. “Had I been able got swipe right or left on my way to meet her, I could have just cancelled it and met someone else. That could have saved me a really bad night. So, yeah, I think we need to get to these driverless cars soon. There are only so many hours in a day. My mom keeps asking me why I don’t have a girlfriend yet.”
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