Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Driving in Cripple Mode
Most people don’t naturally drive automobiles in cripple mode. It’s a very specialized thing. Whenever somebody drives me for the first time in my cripple van, I always instruct them thoroughly on how to drive in cripple mode. I tell them since I don’t have good trunk strength or balance, I can be a very floppy passenger. If they start or stop too hard or whip around on turns, I might flop around like a rag doll on a roller coaster. Therefore, until they get a good idea as to exactly what sort of g-forces my body can combat, they should drive as slow as an old lady on barbiturates. Don’t be intimidated by all the other impatient drivers blazing past us at the speed limit.
This is why all this talk about how someday soon there will be nothing but self-driven cars makes me ill. Once again, cripples like me will be left in the dust. It’s only within the last 10 years or so that cabs that are accessible for wheelchair cripples have been appearing with some frequency on the streets of some big cities. When a cripple cab arrives, the driver gets out and deploys a ramp. The cripple boards and then the driver secures the wheelchair to the floor with clamps and straps so that, in the event of an accident, the cripple isn’t catapulted through the windshield, wheelchair and all. And all the cab drivers are trained in the finer points of driving their cabs in cripple mode, though some appear to have resoundingly flunked.
But what happens when all the cripple cabs are self-driven? The invisible chauffeur with be just a warm and welcoming voice coming from the dashboard. It will have a warm and welcoming name such as Emmett. But who’s going to deploy the ramp and tie down the wheelchairs? Okay, maybe all that stuff will be automatic, too. But will I be able to say to my virtual chauffeur, “Emmett, please drive me in cripple mode?” Will it be programmed to do so? I really don’t think so. Emmett will probably go all 2001 on me. He’ll probably say, “I’m sorry, Mike, I'm afraid I can’t do that,” as the cab bolts away from the curb, tires squealing.
And there I’ll be, trapped in a self-driven cripple cab, flopping around like a rag doll on a roller coaster.
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