Le Car Letters: No. 004: The No Fear Edition

"Life's journey — it unfolds for you as you are ready for it." —Rupaul

Humans are born with the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. I have never let go of either. Tall buildings and fireworks freak me out. It's basic survival. All other fears we develop are learned.

Learning to be afraid of driving is a rational fear, if you consider the statistics. Car accidents caused an estimated 40,000 deaths and 4.5 million serious injuries last year in the U.S. alone. Pedestrian deaths are at an all-time high. The opposite of being afraid is to feel safe, or more precisely defined as "the condition of being protected." It's why finding the most up-to-date safety features is a deciding factor for so many car buyers.

Only a few years ago automotive safety greatly centered on seatbelts and airbags, but modern car safety technology is centered on the  building blocks for cars that will one day drive themselves. Automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, and speed limit systems are forms of early self-driving tech already packaged and sold in new cars. 

The paradox is that study after study says most people fear self-driving cars. For cars to go fully autonomous, we have a lot to learn about how self-driving cars will work when interconnected and in the process what we will feel comfortable with turning over the machine. 

I saw director Alex Horwitz's film "Autonomy," produced by Malcolm Gladwell and Car and Driver at SXSW. Alex interviewed me for the film, and it was meta to see myself in an Austin movie theater talking about self-driving cars on a big screen. But this is also a film that gets to the heart of the human issues evoked by the fully autonomous car's arrival. How much will we trust technology to keep us safe? We won't have answers until industry leaders and policy makers grasp the risks, rewards, and compromises.

Le Car goes to SXSW:

At SXSW, I caught a late morning screening of "The Art of Self Defense, a dark comedic movie about overcoming fear of an attacker, starring Jesse Eisenberg, and one of the festival's breakout films. Everything at SXSW seems to play to a packed house. I first traveled to Austin, Texas in the nineties with a crew of friends who played in punk bands. (Sound familiar?) I thought Texas meant 10-gallon hats, candy paint, and cowboy boots. Instead, we spent the entire week visiting rock clubs and hunting down vintage thrift-store fashion at the height of Austin filmmaker's Richard Linklater's "Slacker" movie era. Since then, SXSW may have ballooned into a massive gathering for all things ideas, but somehow its quirky, DIY spirit is still intact. I was reminded of Austin's distinct kind funkiness at the latest edition of SXSW, strolling around town with some of my favorite car people. 

SXSW is as much about technology and the brands we live with as it is about movies and bands. In Austin, i joined a She's Mercedes panel at the Mercedes House of EQ and talked about all the ways that car shopping is changing for women. She's Mercedes is an initiative that reaches beyond the usual car circles. At another talk, Gwyneth Paltrow shared insight into how she runs Goop with Fast Company Editor-in-chief Stephanie Mehta, a conversation which had nothing to do with her star power or Goop fandom, but everything to do with Paltrow's savvy approach to building a tech company and her chutzpah for breaking out of the A-list crowd to join the B2C business world. 

Back to that theme of what it means to take fear head on. Researchers tell us that the best way to overcome a fear is through repetition. Simply put, if you fear driving, the more you practice, the better driver you'll be. Practice can actually be fun. If you need help with making those decisions on what to drive, including how to find the safest cars on the road, the Le Car concierge is here to help. Read about the fun cars Le Car drove in March below, a deep dive into the house of Fiat. 

Late in March, I attended the 115th Explorer's Club Annual Awards, a gathering of no-fear superstars. I was seated next to The Roy Chapman Andrews Centennial Expedition winner, who discovered a new species of dinosaur in the Gobi Desert using NASA technology. The stars of the show were the Apollo astronauts who took the stage, acknowledged for taking those first crucial steps into the unknown. At the dinner ceremony astronaut Charlie Duke, who became the youngest person to walk on the moon in Apollo 16, offered this bit advice to my dinner date, my 10-year old son, "Aim high," he said. It was a whole new way to think about overcoming the fear of heights. 

Aim high,

Tamara Warren,
founder of Le Car, writer, journalist

Le Provacateurs:

CHANTE HARRIS gets to say that she is making the world a better place. As Vice President at Capalino, a government relations firm, Chante focuses on environmental issues. She is working with Industrial/Organic, a company that derives chemicals and materials from food waste and is building a coalition for sustainable fashion in New York. She is also working on several pilots for alternative transportation with Lime Bike and the electric carmaker BYD. Chante previously worked for Congressman John Conyers.

YARDEN HORWITZ is the co-founder of Spate, a company that uses data science to predict the next big thing in trends. Spate is focusing on beauty, an area where Yarden spent time working during her tenure at Google. Spate was featured in Vogue and is opening a second wave of their pilot program to additional enterprise beauty clients.

HOPE KING is an anchor, reporter and writer at Cheddar. Hope powers through three hour-long live daily  broadcasts from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, and her beats span from technology to transportation, versed in all things Apple, Tesla, Uber, Huawei, and Alibaba.

What we're driving:
 
2019 Maserati Levante

The Maserati Levante is my kind of decadent utilitarian experience. All the leathery touch points feel bejeweled accented by the marque's legendary trident. In contrast, Levante's driving personality feels like a big strong, strapping SUV (Hi cousin Jeep!) albeit in midsize proportions. Cargo space is not at optimum in this chic ride. It's not the most pragmatic luxury model, but that would be missing the point entirely. The 2019 Maserati Levante starts at $77,475.

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifolio

Vavoom. The Stelvio is not your average crossover. Stelvio is not for the faint of heart, nor will everyone will appreciate this style-minded Italian sports-car-posing-as-an-SUV. But I do. Stelvio hits all the senses, including the ears through the audible toot of its engine. It's pure driving pleasure, which auto journalists tend to give it high marks.  It's not as luxe-minded as the Levante, but more moderately priced starting at $41,490.

2019 Ram Rebel

Nothing says statement piece like pickup-truck driving. I should know -- I once drove across the country to New York City in my pickup, and stayed for a decade, another story for another time. The Rebel is Ram's souped-up version of the Ram 1500, a full-size pick up truck, and a road variant more suited to the outback than cruising the outer boroughs. If you live for big hauling or the back country, it's well-equipped for scaling mountains or intimidating small cars when necessary.  Ram Rebel is priced at $49,435. 

Le Car in the news:

Mercedes-Benz EQ Fellows: Tamara Warren
Source: Mercedes-Benz

Le Car debuted on Cheddar Rides.
Source: Cheddar

Le Car is a Summit Fellow
Source: Coolhunting

Pay Attention:

Karen Good-Marable wrote the poignant essay "Flag Code" for Oxford American

Ayana Solomon and Kenrya Rankin new, must-read book How To Fight White Supremacy is in stores.

Artists Sheree Hovspian and Paul Mpagi Sepuya's two-person show is on view in the Venice Beach gallery Team Bungalow

© 2019  Le Car.  All rights reserved.

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