It is not always easy to say good things about California’s Department of Motor Vehicles which specializes in long waiting lines and often insensitive window agents who are doing you a favor by taking your money.

But the agency showed some signs of common sense. It has ordered at least a temporary moratorium on the stampede to set free driverless cars on the state’s roadways.

While the idea of taking the driver out of the driving experience has been gathering momentum especially at places such as Google—the currently dominant player—with Tesla soon to join it. Other formidable candidates include Apple and Volkswagen.

DMV thinks a pause is in order. They are demanding that automobiles at least retain steering wheels in case the technological gadgetry goes amok requiring quick human intervention.

While the numbers of accidents reported to date without drivers at the controls are minimal—this could change as driverless vehicles multiply.

Google argues that 95% of collisions are the result of driver error. Therefore it maintains removing drivers will improve driver safety.

However at the moment driverless cars are yet to be tested by the public so there is no comparative data.

Thus, unlike safety belts whose initial adoption was also highly controversial, reliable performance claims will not be available for many years while the risks are already foreseeable.

This is apparently one of the reasons the DMV seeks a three-year period during which manufacturers must apply for permits with monthly reviews—a regulatory migraine.

However I would suggest these regulations even if approved is only the tip of the iceberg.

Are we inventing automobiles where the driver of the driverless car could be held blameless as the perpetrator of the crash if he or she has the better attorney?

Or will the manufacturers of these complex guidance systems simply be held to higher standards of accountability and perhaps strict liability if driver negligence cannot be conclusively determined? If so that is certain to raise the purchase prices.

When the robotics in the driverless car fail to anticipate habitual (and legal) maneuvers in the driver-driven car in front of it and an accident occurs involving injuries, just who will be to blame?

Does this mean the operator of the driverless car will have to second-guess what their computer was expected to know?

The nation’s personal injury attorneys are no doubt licking their chops.

And what effect will this have on insurance rates and the entire car insurance system while these issues are being sorted out?

These are just some of the thorny issues which go well beyond the DMV’s jurisdiction. But there are other considerations.

Cars are not merely ingenious mechanical devices which changed the world, and they are not in their current driven version historical anomalies that have outlived their usefulness or attraction.

Millions of old fashioned owners still derive joy from maintaining full command of their vehicles. Besides, who among us is brave or dumb enough to surrender control during commute hours on the Los Angeles or Bay Area freeways!

For those who prefer being driven even if by a robot or are unable to drive, there is always public transit with the additional environmental bonuses.

For the vast percentage of car owners whose licenses would have been revoked by now if they had become serial driving offenders causing accidents, their cars are more than just metal on wheels designed to get between two points.

They are highly prized possessions with years of devoted craftsmanship and mechanical genius behind each new roll-out and as iconic to our culture as baseball, skyscrapers and Thanksgiving parades. Even space-age buyers still value the driving experience.

Naturally there are always first adaptors who will rush to the dealerships for the driverless models just as we did with hula hoops and pet rocks. But they could not hurt people and their utility was not in question.

Driverless cars ruling the road is today more fantasy than real— like the latest Star Wars release which just debuted, fun to watch but not to be taken too seriously.

This latest innovation reminds me of an H.L. Mencken quip from an earlier century: “Progress is a good thing unless it goes on too long.”