Court Proceedings Circa 2026

Will Automatic Emergency Braking have unintended consequences?

Judge: “Bailiff, read the charges.”

Bailiff: “Mr. Axel Turner is charged with operating a motor vehicle without Automatic Emergency Braking, endangering the lives of other motorists, and reckless disregard for distracted pedestrians.”

Judge: “How does the defendant plead?”

Turner: “Not guilty, or maybe nolo contendere. There are extenuating circumstances, your honor.”

Judge: “Okay, I’ll humor you…for a minute. Let’s hear it.”

Turner: “Your honor, I love cars.”

Gasp from the courtroom

Judge: “Order in the court!”

Windy_country_road_for_blog2Turner: “I love cars because they’re complicated mechanical beasts that you can harness and enjoy on an open country road.”

Judge: “I fail to see what ‘loving’ cars has to do with the charges against you, Mr. Turner.”

Turner: “I believe that the only way you can really enjoy a car is if you shift it yourself.”

Judge: “You mean, like the old-fashioned ‘stick shifts’?”

Turner: “That’s right! Without a manual transmission, you’re just along for the ride.”

Judge: “Surely all those stick-shift cars are now in museums, or simply removed from the highways by federal decree.”

Turner: “Actually, it was the insurance companies’ fault. You can’t buy a manual-transmission car anymore. So I converted mine.”

Six_speed_manual_shifter_closeup_STI_for_blogJudge: “Converted it? Just what do you mean, Mr. Turner?”

Turner: “I pulled out the Dual-clutch Regenerative Automated Transmission and found an old six-speed manual at a metal recycling center, and then more or less engineered the whole thing myself.”

Judge: “Modifying a vehicle to subvert state and federal motor vehicle standards is also a crime, Mr. Turner. You’re digging a deeper hole for yourself.”

Turner: “I didn’t touch any of the safety systems. Honest! But now I’ve got a brand new Audi RS1 Quattro with a real manual transmission. How cool is that?”

Judge: “By replacing the perfectly good D.R.A.T. with an old-fashioned – and I might add, probably illegal – manual transmission, you must have affected the operation of the Automatic Emergency Braking system.”

Turner: “Only to a point, your honor. When the AEB detects a collision, I just need to depress the clutch pedal so the engine doesn’t stall.”

Judge: “I believe the whole point of AEB is to protect drivers who are not paying attention, so they do not have to take any action. Mr. Turner, I can see no reason not to charge you with one or more crimes. Do you have anything more to say?”

Turner: “I just want to have fun driving my car. I want to search out deserted roads and clip the apexes on the curves as I match revs and downshift manually, then hear the engine RPM climb as I accelerate toward the next curve. That’s what driving is all about. Not downloading videos while your car drives for you.”

defendant_in_handcuffs_for_blog_2Judge: “Automatic Emergency Braking is about saving lives, Mr. Turner, and your anti-social actions cannot be condoned. If you had shown contrition, I might have suggested that you join some type of antiquities club where you could drive old-fashioned stick-shift cars on a private course, although I don’t see the point in that either. No, I believe you’re a hardened case. I find you guilty and sentence you to 6 months in a psychological readjustment center where, after treatment, you may come to see the error of your ways.”

Judge pounds his gavel.

Judge: “Next case!”

Bailiff: “Mr. Landon Niere is next, your honor. He’s charged with willfully walking in front of oncoming vehicles with a ‘Can you see me now?’ sign around his neck.”
Judge: “Do you have a death wish, Mr. Niere?”

Niere: “Just doing my civic duty for all these drivers, making sure their Automatic Emergency Braking systems are working….”

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