Cars are comfortable. Cars are practical. But this comes at a cost. Worldwide it was estimated in 2004 that 1.2 million people were killed (2.2% of all deaths) and 50 million more were injured by motorists. That’s a lot of carnage. Why does this happen?
A lot of accidents are caused by frustrated people in a hurry who forget that they are operating heavy machinery. People who would use the utmost caution operating a table saw will think nothing of flinging their massive tools of transportation at babies in strollers crossing the street. And they generally add insult to injury by honking at the parents.
The other day I was studying how people interact at the grocery store. The store was pretty crowded and some people were growing frustrated with their ability to get their shopping done on schedule. Occasionally I would see one of them tailgate a slower-moving patron and then zoom ahead in a huff. At first I thought it was funny seeing their little dramas, but then I realized that this is the same behavior I’ve seen on the streets, and it’s behavior that has seriously threatened my life. It’s one thing to bump into someone with your 30 pound grocery cart. You can apologize and move on. But it’s a different matter to roll over them with your 3000 pound grocery cart. And yet people approach these two situations with the same inconsiderate behavior. Scary.
You motorists might argue “Well I’ve never killed or maimed anyone personally. Don’t get all in a snit about it!” Even if you haven’t killed anyone with your car lately, you are perpetuating a system that is continuously threatening to kill. And this threat of death keeps people off the streets and diminishes our communities. Before cars you could walk around pretty much anywhere and stand around pretty much wherever you pleased. Now we have what I like to call Zones of Terror. You may have seen these zones—they are paved areas that surround our houses. Whoever lingers too long in one of these zones is facing severe consequences from their fellow citizens. Pets and children must be fenced in to prevent them from wandering into one of these zones. Is that how we want to live?
When you enter your metal box, you lose some of your humanity. You can no longer fully interact with me. I can barely hear you. I can barely see you. To me you look like a big hulking menacing robot. I invite you to exit the box to join me and the other humans.