I spent ten years driving in Seattle. Up there, commuter traffic breaks up into two groups: commuters and warriors. There's almost a code: commuters will stay the hell out of the way and get there when they get there, and warriors are driving goddamn it and if they only shaved two minutes, at least they shaved two minutes being alive. Warriors tend to be aggressive and they tend to get into dogfights. Within the code, however, is the unspoken understanding that warriors do not fuck with commuters. They're not even "cars" they're obstacles. Might as well be big square rolling traffic cones. Start fucking with the commuters and suddenly there's a lot more chaos on the roads - things are easier when the warrior pool is limited. Don't wake the zombies. To do so is a party foul.
Down here in LA, everyone is checked out. Nobody is truly driving. It's the sort of deadening that happens when no amount of navigation will make your job better - the "warriors" down here are usually right along side you, cutting people off every two minutes, making no forward progress whatsoever because the miasma is truly impenetrable (unless you're on a motorcycle, but that's another story). They're all doing the stuff the article talks about - chatting on the phone. Smoking a bowl (holy shit - the 405 during afternoon rush hour). Watching a DVD. I passed a guy doing Just for Men on his mustache once.
Autonomous cars are going to be better for you. Why? The clueless who just want to get there will no longer get in your way. Here's the thing: freight trains have been autonomous for at least fifteen years. They still have conductors on them, though, because you need somebody there when things go wrong. From the article:
Ford Europe chief Stephen Odelle also said the technology was speeding forward, but added that he believed "the technology will be ready before legislation and consumers are."
"How comfortable will consumers be with fully automated cars?" he asked, adding that legislating for liability would be quite tricky with no driver behind the wheel.
There will never be a car that doesn't have a manual override, and there will never be a person in the driver's seat who doesn't have a driver's license. That's basic safety. Many airliners these days are capable of autonomous landing and takeoff - but we still have pilots.
Go ahead and drive. No one is stopping you, and I doubt they ever will. Those guys who would rather play Words with Friends? Let 'em. You're so much better off if they're not also trying to keep it within the lines.