Hello again!

I hope you have all had a lovely summer. It has been a while, and I had not intended for this much time to have passed since my last blog post. The craziness of travel and work this spring just blurred right into the solstice months, and now it is nearly autumn. But, I am happy to report progress and news on a number of fronts!

One is that after three months of research, testing, and writing, my article on BMW’s advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) is finally done, and it will be appearing soon as a massive three-part feature story in the magazine Roundel, starting this fall. My enormous thank you to all of you who answered my call back in April for input on your experiences with ADAS. The topic triggered unprecedented response, as more than thirty of you wrote back within nine days, both on the blog post itself and in the form of long, impassioned emails that came from as far away as India, the UK, and the UAE. Even the National Safety Council weighed in!

I was not expecting this. The number and tenor of your responses made me realize how strongly many of you feel about ADAS (both for and against), but they all helped me immeasurably to craft my Roundel article in a way that directly addresses your concerns. Here is my deepest gratitude for your participation, and I hope you enjoy the article. Let me know what you think of it!

Mi Ae with the 2019 BMW X7

Me with a press 2019 BMW X7, a rolling caravan of ADAS technology. I drove this beast over 1,000 miles as part of my testing its ADAS under all sorts of conditions. Photo by Mark Medalen.

On another note, this spring, I became a member of Washington State’s Autonomous Vehicle (AV) Work Group. This organization was started in 2018, and its purpose is to develop recommendations around possible policies, laws, and rules around AVs in our state for decades to come. The Work Group is organized into seven subcommittees, each one focusing on different aspects of AVs: Licensing, Safety, Infrastructure & Systems, System Technology & Data Security, Liability, Workforce, and Health & Equity.

As you might imagine, I work on the Safety Subcommittee. One of the tasks we’re looking at is creating an education campaign around ADAS in current vehicles for both the general public and stakeholders. Since ADAS is the gateway to AVs, and it poses huge safety ramifications (both positive and negative) but many vehicle owners are unaware of or don’t understand the technology, this seems like a good place to start (and urgently needed as I discovered from your responses). It is also surprising how little reliable, good-quality information is currently being disseminated on the subject, given the near-ubiquitous presence of ADAS on new vehicles today.

Other things of note: I’m really looking forward to visiting the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) for the first time in Las Vegas next January, now that I’m wading ever further in the ADAS/AV space. It’s also looking likely that I may be a speaker next May at the 6th International Roundabout Conference (yes, there really is such a thing). If my proposal is chosen, I’ll be talking about the need for good public education on how to use roundabouts and the real reasons why American drivers struggle so much with round things in their streets.

At the moment, I’m in San Francisco on a long overdue but exciting mission: To work on business development for Driving in the Real World! I’m looking to take it to the next level and make a viable living from doing what I love most—helping people be safer on our roads. I’m seeking more opportunities for paid writing, consulting, and collaborating with government, NGOs, individuals, and the media. Nine years ago, I started DITRW, and so far it’s been a journey that I never could have imagined it taking the path it has.

Thank you all for giving me a reason to continue this amazing work—your support means more than you can imagine. In the meantime, drive like your dogs live here.

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(Thanks to my friend David Moise, who snapped our featured picture on a traffic island at an unprotected intersection in Seattle. It’s funny ’cause so many Seattleites have dogs instead of kids. Whatever it takes…)

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