Time to bring back CBs?

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

On the same day we got a view of Elon Muskís Tesla convertible on its way to Mars, Douglas County officials gave approval to a plan to build a new drive-in movie theater west of Omaha.

While some of us worry about the trustworthiness of self-driving cars, a video of the massive pile-up on Interstate 35 at Ames, Iowa, made us long for the days when every car carried a CB radio.

Things may be changing when it comes to Americansí relationship with their cars, but the love affair is in no danger of dying.

Most of us still enjoy driving, but our cars are already doing more and more of the work for us. Virtually all cars have systems to prevent brakes from locking up and traction control to prevent slipping, and itís not unusual for your newer car to nudge you back into your lane when it notices youíre not paying attention, apply the brakes when it senses a collision approaching, and even help you parallel park.

Completely autonomous cars will be appearing in dealerships nationwide sooner than any of us can imagine.

If you havenít seen the video of the chain-reaction wrecks on the Iowa freeway, a word of warning: itís scary. More frightening is the fact that itís not unusual; every storm spawns similar videos of cars and semis slamming into vehicles stuck on snowy winter roads.

They didnít happen so often back in the days of the CB fads since warnings could be broadcast up and down the ďsuper-slab.Ē (Admittedly, traffic cameras, smartphone cameras and YouTube didnít exist then, either, so it was unlikely that images of the carnage would be shared.)

While most passenger cars arenít carrying CBs these days, most of the passengers are carrying smartphones, which can already provide data about the speed of traffic along their commuting route and other information.

Thereís no reason, with a little tweaking of software and perhaps governmental encouragement and direction, a system can be implemented to warn approaching drivers of accidents hidden in the snowstorm.

Someday soon, we hope, those smartphones that are dangerous when they distract us from driving will be enlisted to make our travel safer.

ó Check out the I-35 pileup video here.

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